July 4th is a coveted date for big blockbusters to be released. Sadly, it seems, this time doesn’t bode well for anything taking place in the old west. This joins Wild Wild West as one of the more disappointing summer movies; the most when closing in on the fourth of July. I was cautious when it came to The Lone Ranger. Red flags were there that could contribute to a bust (only if I’d known then), but over time my excitement had grown enough to see this on the holiday. Man, was I upset walking out. Should have been grilling in the backyard, watching something different, or doing anything else. For the last 70 years The Lone Ranger and Tonto have been an enduring buddy team. Now, unfortunately, a major stain is thrown on them. The Lone Ranger was simply a bad film that made for a horrendous time at the theater. A complete money-grabber.
Ex upper-class lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) returns to his small Texas town, where his brother Dan (James Badge Dale) is the head ranger. A railroad executive, Cole (Tom Wilkinson), is planning a public execution to show the community the train won’t bring lawlessness. One criminal, Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), however, escapes. Dan’s whole group of rangers is killed trying to recapture him, including newly deputized John. Tonto (Johnny Depp) is led by a white spirit horse to John’s body, who re-awakens and eventually becomes a masked lawman. John and Tonto hesitantly work together in order to bring justice.
The characters were handled awfully. Essentially, The Lone Ranger is Batman in the old west. He was a guy that something tragic happened to him so he decided to have revenge; similar to a vigilantly of sorts. He’s made into a dull character you have to follow around that I never rooted for. Tonto is supposed to be The Lone Ranger’s friend who he helps, not a Native American Jack Sparrow. The impression is never given that the two remotely like each other either. There’s no chemistry or real reason for them to be together. The word justice is thrown out, but it wasn’t a good enough answer. That was a crucial area of the film, and it turned out to be the worst part.
Another off aspect was the overall tone. It can’t seem to settle on one, just keeps switching. The change occurs awkwardly, and this was one of the reasons I could never get into what was happening. Certain points embodied a family feel where things were aiming for children. Humor never got a chuckle out of me. It was basically a friend who wanted to prove he was funny, but he wasn’t. Then out of nowhere that would stop. Shootings would be seen up close with blood, and edgy type violence. You go from characters goofing around, to cannibalism and rape references. Pretty messed up for a Disney movie. The people involved must have pondered on how light or dark to make it. Eventually, I guess they combined both of them. It was not organic in the least.
The acting never quite gelled. Johnny Depp is a fabulous actor. He has loads of fun type roles under his belt (Pirates of the Caribbean series, Rango), but Depp is capable of some serious acting (Public Enemies, Finding Neverland). He’s playing Jack Sparrow 2.0. It’s not want I wanted to see from the character. Came off too strong, and was given weak dialog; so, no help given. Depp was far from the biggest problem. Still, didn’t help out. Armie Hammer works well in supporting roles – look at The Social Network. What he lacks is the ability to carry a movie. Hammer is very bland. Totally miscast here. The studio is trying to create a star, but it isn’t working (shouldn’t be in the running for the next Batman). Tom Wilkinson, the underrated Barry Pepper, and Helen Bonham Carter are all fine actors. None of them are memorable or make any kind of impression; never good when talent isn’t used to maximize its full potential (almost zero is drawn upon).
Two good action scenes are the only thing that can qualify as a saving grace. We get stuff like that all the time. Defiantly not groundbreaking. Action is a useful tool in many instances, but isn’t an automatic life saver. One takes place towards the beginning and one near the end. That’s a large gap, and not nearly enough to provide redeeming value. I debated raising my rating a tad because of this and the occasional amusing Johnny Depp face expression. The Lone Ranger is the worst movie of 2013 so far, save your money and time, DO NOT SEE. I know a lot of money will be made and inevitably a sequel will be announced. This is not the next Pirates of the Caribbean series – Depp, PLEASE make a Pirates sequel before another one of these.