“The Lone Ranger” is too long and systematic to be a reboot of a 1949 TV Series that's so dull. It was clear to me as I watched the film and surveyed the audience that it had to have been made for two people: those who were around when it was on tv and kids that may like it today as a new "superhero". The movie should have ended around an hour and forty minutes, but like some things in old hollywood...it just wouldn’t die.
Armie Hammer is John Reid (Lone Ranger), a highly educated lawyer who returns to his Colby, Texas home with aims of bringing justice to his small town. After the train he rides in on is ambushed by the outlaw Butch Cavendish’s (William Fitchner) gang, he teams up with his brother Dan (James Dale) to capture Butch. During the ambush John meets Tonto (Johnny Depp), a full-blooded Comanche Indian, who he locks up after Tonto saves him and the people on the runaway train. On a high for seeking and exacting justice, John joins his brother in a doomed attempt to capture the evil Cavendish due to a double cross. After being killed with the group of rangers, John is revived by a spirit horse (Silver) and help from Tonto. The two team up to get revenge/justice in the deaths of the rangers.
Even in my description it seems like the plot has started, ended, and started again. It does. Instead of just telling the story, we have to witness spectacle after spectacle that slowly inches the film forward. The film is told through the eyes of a 1933 Tonto to a young boy at a fair in San Francisco. Why? Who knows, but it’s totally unnecessary. The film could have started with the death of the rangers and moved forward but I think director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean 1,2,3) wanted to make sure he used as much of Depp’s eccentricities as possible to keep things interesting. In fact the film feels like a poor carbon copy of a Pirates film with its bombastic score, punchy jokes and Depp at the helm.
There’s nothing about the characters that draws you into them. Even Depp’s incredible powers of making a character his own becomes a caricature rather than a character with depth. Hammer is dry as usual. Tom Wilkinson (a great talent) is almost unrecognizable as Cole, Butch’s more intelligent and as deadly brother, but rather subdued to performing as the typical villain. The entire film is a cookie cut version of something you’ve seen before, but want to forget about as soon as you leave the theater.
Let’s get to the reason I dreaded seeing this film before I even went in the theater. Johnny Depp plays a Comanche Indian while clearly being barely Native American himself. In an interview Depp expressed that "I guess I have some Native American (in me) somewhere down the line. My great grandmother was quite a bit of Native American, she grew up Cherokee or maybe Creek Indian. Makes sense in terms of coming from Kentucky, which is rife with Cherokee and Creek." You guess, Johnny? It’s just amazing to me that while there are scenes with large groups of Native Americans in the movie, not one of them were worthy enough to portray Tonto. Not even Chaske Spencer or one of the other young men from the “Twilight” films Mr. Bruckheimer? The fact that Depp wears war paint the entire film doesn’t make him authentic or hide the fact that he's not. The choppy English only continues the stereotype. It’s sad that in 2013 these images (or lack there of) are still being portrayed.
So once again Hollywood cranks out a big budget summer blockbuster that’s too long, has a story line with twists you can see coming from a distance, but rests its success on the shoulders of a talented titan rather than stepping out of the norm and going for authenticity. A heartfelt story, with genuine characters would have been nice. On one hand, the film is set in a time when calling a Native American a savage was the norm. I get that. It has a scene in which the Comanche leaders meet with Reid in their tent and he is clearly the dumbest person in the “room”. Yet, it does nothing to make up for the fact that Hollywood still doesn’t cast authentically in a role where it clearly should.
As a whole, “The Lone Ranger” is a movie that you check your watch multiple time throughout to see if it’s almost done. The movie is unoriginal and forgettable. The “best parts” were in the trailer. Wait until the film comes out on DVD, Red Box, and Netflix. Unless you are one of the people I witnessed smiling with joy as they saw an old friend come back to life on the silver screen, or a kid who has to go to the film his/her parent takes them to. Hollywood, please, some things are best left in the past...especially Redface!