The Lone Ranger

Posted: July 6, 2013 in Movie Reviews

In the newest Jerry Bruckheimer adventure, the titanic Lone Ranger and Tonto work together to bring justice to the Wild West.

In the newest Jerry Bruckheimer adventure, the titanic Lone Ranger and Tonto work together to bring justice to the Wild West.

What happens when the law no longer serves true justice? What must a man, as a moral and upright person, do to satisfy both the wellbeing of society and his clear conscience? The measures one must take in executing true justice is the underlying premise in The Lone Ranger. This is often the core theme that runs deep within the classic Western, from John Wayne to Roy Rogers, and is what ultimately drives this film in scope of moral principles.

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Summary: (Spoiler-free)

When city lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) seeks rural Texas as the place to implement the law learned in his books, he is deputized as an official Texas Ranger. But when his own brother and fellow ranger is killed by the bloodthirsty Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), Reid is compelled to track down the callous outlaw and bring him in for swift justice.

Seeking the aid of the slightly eccentric Native-American Tonto (Johnny Depp), John Reid must find his inner strength to follow the law and not allow his feelings to interfere. When money and power causes the law itself to become corrupt, the last surviving Texas ranger must wrestle with himself between his morals and his sworn duty in order to bring true and unprejudiced justice to the Wild West; along the way, shaping his character and transforming him into the true Lone Ranger.

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 What do you get when you cross Pirates of the Caribbean with Roy Rogers? You get cowboys instead of pirates roaming across an ocean of sand shouting “yee-haw!” instead of “arrgh!” And not just because the producer, director, writers, costume designer, composer, and lead actor are the same people who did Pirates.

 The movie starts out as you wouldn’t quite expect, in a 1930s setting with old Tonto recalling the story of how the Lone Ranger became legend. Once the story really gets rolling, you become engulfed in a tidal wave of all the classic elements a traditional Western needs: train heists, bank robberies, plenty of pistol battles, and all the horseback action a 150-minute film can handle.

THE LONE RANGER_train heist

 Which brings us to the #1 grievance that audiences have about this film—–the length. Being a dedicated film aficionado, time doesn’t quite affect me as it does others. I could watch The Lord of the Rings extended editions back-to-back in 12 hours with no problems at all. But while the epic nature of The Lord of the Rings merits an elongated running time, other less-epic films can often enough feel stretched out and in need of an explanation concerning their length.

To be practical, The Lone Ranger is a fairly meaty film. It isn’t merely two and a half hours of cowboy action as many have depicted it to be. Its moral themes run deeply together through several story lines, culminating in one definitive premise: “Justice is what a man must take for himself,” as Tonto so eloquently states. While the film could have easily become one chase scene shorter, I feel that the film in most respects earns its lengthened narrative. Honestly, it all flies by so quickly (as if you yourself are on a galloping horse) that you really don’t notice its duration.

Johnny Depp as the famous Indian Tonto is fantastic as usual. The equally-famous protean has shown that he can adapt to any role he is given, regardless of age, ethnicity, or sensibility. While you at times feel that Depp is merely portraying a Native-American Jack Sparrow, using a role that has forever defined him as an actor, you must admit that no one does quirky hero better than him. Is he good at the style of acting? Absolutely. Should he implement it into nearly every role he does? (Think Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka, the Mad Hatter, Edward Scissorhands, etc.) Probably not. But for what it’s worth, he still gives a solid and fun, be it whacky, character.

"Something very wrong with that horse."

“Something very wrong with that horse.”

Armie Hammer plays a very concrete Lone Ranger, as well. He doesn’t play it with any real bravado, but this is easily forgivable seeing as how the character itself—–though classic in nature—–doesn’t need to be grand and heroic at this time. Remember, he is barely the Lone Ranger and is still shedding his city boy persona. We’ll save that great Western legend persona for a later date.

One must ask if him going from city lawyer to hardened cowboy in such a short amount of time is realistic, but bear in mind that the motivation behind his night-to-day transformation (the death of his brother) brings an enormous amount of gravity and deep desire for justice to the character. Though perhaps not the absolute best, for the type of character that was needed, Armie Hammer was a good choice.

From a cinematic point of view, the film was spectacular. The rugged setting of Utah (where the film was shot), though gorgeous in its own way, worked perfectly for the Western film. The wide, sweeping shots of the Utah desert with its picture-perfect rock formations and golden mesa was all real, with very little of it painted in, and it gave the film a very genuine feel.

THE LONE RANGER_desert

The actors amazingly all performed their own stunts atop actual moving trains—–real  trains—–and on horseback, which just shows the passion and love the film makers had for the genre. This film was done much like the classic Westerns were done: with real men atop actual, fully-functional trains; with real stunts; and among real locations. CGI was used only where absolutely needed.

The film really felt like it had two sides to it: a light and a dark. In certain moments, scorpions crawl on peoples’ faces, seemingly-cute rabbits turn vicious, men are gunned down and slaughtered without a care at all to the value of human life, and the main villain cuts out and eats the heart of a man (which is why I would not recommend this for anyone younger than 10, although the scene is merely suggested and not actually seen). But then on the other side of that spectrum, you have the exciting, vivacious chase scenes with the Lone Ranger riding heroically on his stead Silver and the classic William Tell Overture playing energetically and full of spirit. It’s during these little moments you realize how fun and enjoyable films can be.

In a nutshell:

Ignore the critics. This is exactly the type of film they love to shred apart, like jackals tearing apart their dinner. If you look past its quirky oddities and unrealistic moments, you’ll find that The Lone Ranger  is exactly what it needs to be: fun. Pure and simple. It doesn’t strive for a professional standard of film making, but it’s exactly what a summer movie ought to be. It’s bright, humorous, full of color, and pays homage to the classic Western genre that has been too long untouched.

 

7 stars

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Comments
  1. nativepride73 says:

    Great Review, though I personally disagree that Johnny Depp should have been cast in the role of Tonto.

    • davidc1776 says:

      Thanks very much! Not gonna argue. I know that a huge complaint about the film was him portraying a Native American. I don’t agree/disagree with that nor do I think he was ideally cast, I just like Johnny Depp in whatever he does, so I naturally enjoyed him in the role even though he wasn’t necessarily right for it.

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