The Lone Ranger (2013)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/28/13
Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Helena Bonham Carter

A big budget, effects laden spectacle film that's strapped with bland writing and collapses under its own weight and overly long running time. Faring poorly at the box office, Disney wrote off the film as a $191 million dollar loss, which bears numerous similarities to last year's box office disaster, "John Carter" (2012).

John Reid (Armie Hammer) is a lawyer on his way to Texas, when he gets involved in a train robbery that introduces the film's two driving forces: a ruthless criminal by the name of Butch Cavendish (an unrecognizable William Fichtner) and Tonto, the Comanche Indian (eccentric Johnny Depp). Left for dead by Cavendish and his men, Reid dons a mask and tentatively joins Tonto on a quest for revenge (or justice, if you prefer). And thus, the Lone Ranger is born.

The film is gorgeously shot and the scenic vistas of New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado are presented in a beautifully muted palette. The makeup and visual effects are superb, and blend seamlessly with the overly violent, but bloodless action, although the CGI rabbits and horses are notably unconvincing. Johnny Depp delivers a delightfully loopy performance as Tonto, much in the same vein as the off-balance Jack Sparrow, but it's not enough to save the production from mediocrity and the overbearing sense of guilt and shame that it conveys. Armie Hammer does an adequate job with his role, but his character is annoyingly stupid and mostly played for laughs. Depp's Tonto is more serious, but also needlessly goofy at times. Adding insult to the already weak plot, the story is pointlessly told in a series of flashbacks, which is disruptive and unnecessarily derails the action. The film offers no surprises as it attempts to balance the wicked hearts of men and the wholesale slaughter of Native Americans with light-hearted humor and nonsensical set pieces, which leaves a bad aftertaste long after the film is over. Pretty to look at, but not particularly fun to watch.