The Lone Ranger became Disney’s second high scale failure in two years after failing to make more than its $375,000,000 budget ($225,000,000 production budget) making it greater failure than John Carter the previous year. The warning signs for a potential failure were there from the get go with budgetary and production issues leading to the film’s cancelation, but after cuts in wages, production soon was back on track.
The story of The Lone Ranger is told in flashback with proceedings beginning in early 1930s San Francisco where a young boy meets Tonto (Johnny Depp) who tells him the story of the idolised Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer). The story flashes back (occasionally flicking back to the 1930s for a few seconds) to 1869, Texas, where lawyer John Reid (Hammer) returns home. The train in question is carrying notorious criminal Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) who is soon to be hanged, however, the train is ambushed and Butch escapes. Butch is tracked by John Reid and his brother, Dan Reid (James Bridge Dale), but when Dan Reid is killed by Butch, John Reid embarks on a mission of vengeance to avenge the death of his brother
The Lone Ranger has received a critical bashing upon arriving on British shores; some critics have gotten a little bit of enjoyment out of tearing The Lone Ranger apart. For instance, the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw claimed that “The South American landmass peeled off from the western seaboard of Africa quicker” than The Lone Ranger took to get from start to finish. Peter Bradshaw certainly has a point as, at 150 minutes, the film is colossally overlong meaning that there is a segment in the middle where the film somewhat drags its feet as though the endless desert is taking its toll. The film’s pace is somewhat hampered by the flashbacks to the 1930s, the flashbacks feel intrusive and take the wind out of the film’s sails. However, that said The Lone Ranger is rather enjoyable mixing the action with humour with good effect.
Johnny Depp is mostly there for comic relief as he has been in quite a few recent films such as the Pirates of Caribbean franchise and Alice in Wonderland. The character he plays in The Lone Ranger is of similar mould to the likes of Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka and the Mad Hatter as the characters are all crazed eccentrics, but Depp does those roles in an entertaining fashion and whilst I feel his more serious work is by far the more effective and interesting Depp does successfully bring an element of comic relief to all of the mentioned films and he is on fine form in The Lone Ranger.
Depp is certainly the main attraction of the show, but Armie Hammer has a good rapport with Depp and Tom Wilkinson and William Fichtner also shine delivering pretty villainous performance. On the other hand Rush Wilson’s performance is something that will easily be forgotten as, yet again, Hollywood churns out a quite frankly awful female character. Rebecca Reid (Wilson) is the only female character given more than nanosecond of screen time so you would imagine that some effort was made in making her character do more than tell Butch Cavendish (similar name to Butch Cassidy from Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid) that her husband is coming to get him (she does this three times) and uselessly providing “assistance” by placing her hands on villains before being knocked out by being pushed harmlessly aside. Even her son was more useful than she was and he was about seven.
Depp’s performance in The Lone Ranger is reminiscent of his performances as Captain Jack Sparrow which ties in rather well with the action sequences which bare a strong similarity to the action sequences in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which is hardly surprising as they are directed by Gore Verbinski (the man behind the first three Pirate films). In the action sequences the comedy level is turned up to eleven whilst tension is very, very low because the GCI filled action sequences never create a sense of danger. It is very obvious that a contrived event will rescue the heroes at the very last second.
The Lone Ranger has a few similarities to other Western films, none more so than Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West in which the film’s plot and opening scene (at the train station) have strong similarities. The Lone Ranger is visually superb and Bojan Bazelli’s cinematography looks similar to the great westerns, emphasising the size of the landscape. The Lone Ranger arrived on British shores with a critical bashing of which was entirely undeserved with many critics reviewing the budget rather than the actual film.