Posts Tagged ‘The Lone Ranger’


The Lone Ranger

May 11, 2014

Westerns are not everyone’s forte. I am not that big of a western fan, although there have been many well crafted western movies out there. Many of them are clever and aren’t cliched or stereotypical. I like the classics as well as some of the modern ones that weave a good story around great acting.

I happened to watch The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer recently and found to to be a charming but flawed western. I like the idea of bringing some heavy back story for the lead characters. I thought it was a very ambitious attempt to make both characters likable, flawed, human characters.

The story is a nice variation of the Lone Ranger’s origin story of how he was left for dead and swore revenge for the death of his brother, a captain of the legendary Texas Rangers. It makes John Reid (a underrated Armie Hammer) not an actual cowboy himself, but a city lawyer.

His path crosses Tonto (a hammy Johnny Depp) when Reid is deputized as a Texas Ranger to help bring in the notorious Butch Cavendish (screen stealer and unrecognizable William Fichtner) and his men. Led by John’s older brother Dan Reid, they had set off in pursuit of him when they were betrayed by one of their own and taken down by Cavendish. The monstrous Cavendish kills Dan Reid and eats his heart. John and the others are left for dead.

Tonto finds and buries the men, but discovers that John is alive and believes he is a ‘spirit walker’ who was sent to stop Cavendish, who Tonto believes is the wendigo, an evil flesh eating spirit in the guise of a human.

Tonto begins to guide John with solving the reason behind his brother’s death. It somehow has ties to the expansion of the Transcontinental Railroad, and a cursed silver rock. As the story unfolds, it is shown what Cavendish has been up to, impersonating indians and raiding frontier outposts. This brings in a corrupt calvary Captain Jay Fuller (Barry Pepper) who uses his influence to conduct raids on Indian villages and use these tribes as scapegoats to what was really happening.

One of their leads takes the pair to a brothel where they meet Red Harrington (Helena Bonham Carter) who reveals some of the clues behind the conspiracy at work. It has something to do with accursed silver rock and the expansion of the railroad.

In further pursuit of their leads, the pair are captured by a Comanche tribe. We are introduced to Tonto’s backstory, being a youth who traded the silver rock and the source to a pair of men, one being Cavendish. These two men proceeded to annihilate Tonto’s tribe to help keep that secret. Now an outcast of his own people, Tonto seeks redemption by stopping these men.

John and Tonto escape their captivity as Captain Fuller and his men decimate the tribe. They find Cavendish at the silver mine, but John decides to capture Cavendish instead of killing them. When he brings him to Captain Fuller, he is betrayed and we learn that the man behind this is Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson-love his villains).

John is set to be killed by Cavendish and his men, but is saved by Tonto. John’s sister-in-law and her son Danny are held hostage. Having no other alternatives, John escapes the his captors with the aid of Tonto, and resolves to stop Cole and Cavendish from taking control of the railroadand using thier stockpile of silver to finance their criminal activities.

This leads an all out assault on the day of the joining of the Transcontinental Railway. It is a high speed chase by horseback and by train as John and Tonto stop the men from taking over the railway and gettingaway with murder.

I found a lot of this movie to be fun and exciting. There are some off-putting moments that I think that derailed (get it?) the story. I thought the villainy was quite apt for this movie- it was what drove Tonto to be shunned by his people. I think if he were to be betrayed as a little darker and edgier, he would be a much more interesting character.

There is some light-heartyed spots in the film that just plays out weird. I did not like the cuts to the present as the aged Tonto tells his story. While I like the story in general, that bit of disruption just stops the movie for me. It works with “The Princess Bride,” as you are being told a story within the movie and you are part of it. That bit of narrative is disjointing to me.

Johnny Depp is a terrific actor, but I think his Tonto should have been more of an edgier, unpredictable sort. Armie Hammer is a striking leading man in this feature, but plays a little too much of second fiddle to Depp’s Tonto. Their balance is off as a hero and sidekick go.

The villains of the movie are slick and dangerrous- both Wilkinson and Fitchner are scene stealers, slowly burninng up their screen time with nuanced performances.

I think this interrpretattion of “The Lone Ranger” had the potential to bring this classic hero tomodern times. It just lacks that urgency to stop the villains schemes and needs a little more drama for the characters to bear. It just falls short of being that blockbuster film.