When I was approached to do a guest review of The Lone Ranger, I was ready to pass it up. Yes, I'm an avid movie lover and yes, I enjoy discussing and ranting about movies just as much as the next guy, but I'm not a writer by any stretch. I've never written a review of anything in my life (my review of World War Z notwithstanding), except maybe an extremely negative review for The House on Mango Street in English class. So what convinced me to decide to write this review? The fact that I've only read bad reviews for The Lone Ranger when I feel that it deserved a great one. That being said: basic plot spoilers ahead.
The movie starts with John Reid (played by Armie Hammer - The Social Network), a law school graduate heading home to Colby, Texas where he is to become the town's prosecutor. Aboard the same train as John, two prisoners are being transported to Colby; Tonto (played by Johnny Depp - A Nightmare on Elm Street), a Native American who was arrested for just that--being native American, and Butch Cavendish (played by William Fichtner), a murderer and our lead baddie for the movie. Cavendish's men take over the train and break him out of the train's prison. John and Tonto try to save the day, but Cavendish escapes and the train ends up crashing near Colby. John's brother Dan (played by James Badge Dale - Iron Man 3, World War Z) is the leader of the Texas Rangers, the law enforcers of Colby. When John returns home, his brother Dan makes him an honorary Texas Ranger and the Rangers set off to find Cavendish. The gang of Rangers are ambushed and all of them are killed by Cavendish's men. John is presumed dead by Tonto, who happens to stumble across the dead Rangers and digs graves for all of them. When John wakes up in his grave, Tonto believes him to be a "spirit walker", which is a man who can not be killed. Tonto convinces John to wear a mask; since he is assumed dead by Cavendish and his men, it could prove useful if he were to hide his identity. John vows to bring Cavendish to justice for killing his brother, so him and Tonto set off to find him.
The first thing you need to realize about a movie like The Lone Ranger, is that you're not walking into the theater expecting to see an instant classic. This isn't No Country For Old Men, this isn't Gangs of New York or The Departed, it won't be winning any Academy Awards next year--sorry to disappoint. You're walking into a film made by the same people who brought you Pirates of the Caribbean: a movie with big-name actors, a fun story, lovable characters, and plenty of action. Slap a PG-13 rating on it and it's fun for the whole family. That's exactly what I expected from The Lone Ranger and that's exactly what it gave me. There are loads of humorous character moments, plenty of quirky dialogue, fun action sequences, and an elaborate story that did not leave me disappointed. All the elements that make for a fun western were present which was backed by a cast of excellent actors. The dynamic between Hammer and Depp is fantastic (perhaps Depp's portrayal of Tonto is pretty much what you'd imagine, but I wouldn't have wanted anything less). Hammer makes for a believable law student turned vigilante and his progression from one to the next makes for a humorous, light-hearted, clumsy protagonist. Few actors actually intimidate me on screen, but Fichtner is one of them--and this role was his time to shine. A dirty, mentally insane anti-hero who literally eats the hearts of his victims was enough to convince me that he would be a sizable adversary for our heroes. My only critique? Ruth Wilson wasn't babe enough for Armie Hammer. A very believable damsel-in-distress type, but.. let's up the babe-factor in the sequel, guys (if it ever manages to get one).
One last comment I'd like to make is about the character Tonto. I've read numerous reviews saying that Tonto was made out to be the butt of all of the movie's jokes and that it's offensive to Native Americans. That he's portrayed as more of a fool than a trickster and this upset some people. I didn't see this at all. In fact, the other Native Americans in the movie point out that Tonto is a bit of a moron. That he's a little peculiar and very different from the other Native Americans which is what makes his character a bit of an outcast. I don't think that could of been made any more clear.
I can understand that The Lone Ranger came after a long line of blockbuster movies this summer (Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek, Fast 6, Man of Steel) and perhaps the bar was set a little too high, but by no means does it deserve to be such a big flop. But hey, at the end of the day I suppose the box office doesn't lie. Let's be real though, who'd of thought Despicable Me 2 would of doubled it's production budget in it's opening weekend...
My overall rating of The Lone Ranger: 87%
Reviewed by Michael Lombardo