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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Lone Ranger | Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, William Fichtner, Helena Bonham Carter | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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The Lone Ranger | Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, William Fichtner, Helena Bonham Carter | Review

The birth of this legend begins with the sidekick.  Blame it all on Tonto (Johnny Depp) a Comanche in Kabuki-meets-Jack Skellington makeup with a dead crow for a hat.

A re-invention?  You bet, but don’t disregard everything you’ve ever believed about the masked man.  There is a silver bullet and a horse named Silver.  There is a white hat and a Texas Ranger badge.  There is a kemosabe and a meaning to that word.  All of these however, were Tonto’s idea, starting with the mask. Get used to it.

A backstory introduces the viewer to John Reid (Armie Hammer) a lawyer whose Texas Ranger brother Dan (James Badge Dale) is married to Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) whom John is in love with.  That almost guarantees Dan’s demise, doesn’t it?

The villain here is Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) the murderous head of an outlaw gang.  John Reid, slowly morphing into the entity we know as the Lone Ranger throughout the film, and Tonto pursue Cavendish for different reasons, and confrontations frequently take place on runaway trains.  Dan Reid is also after Cavendish with his own gang of lawmen.  Bullets fly.

Meanwhile, railroad tycoon Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson) oozes a slimy charm around Rebecca and her son Danny (Bryant Prince) letting us know early on he’s not to be trusted.

This is the Wild West so there must be ladies of ill repute for all those railroad workers and cowboys.  Red Harrington (Helena Bonham Carter) is a madam who is legged more than armed.  Her porcelain limb contains a rifle and she’s the fastest foot around.  She’d like to see Cavendish strung up as well; he’s a part of HER backstory, you see.

Discovering a legend’s origins is usually fascinating, and this Tonto-heavy tale delivers the goods in the first hour, then flips into an action overdrive which actually gets tedious and drags on much too long in a misguided frenzy of an attempt at audience satisfaction that feels more like an assault with an arsenal of misfiring guns.

The last hour disintegrates into a mish-mash full of chaotic and awkward attempts to marry slapstick and cold-blooded murder into one cohesive, harmonious couple, which doesn’t work.  At all.  Even Tonto’s pithy one-liners head south, from wise to lame.

Armie Hammer does the legend proud, and Johnny Depp covers new ground with his interpretation of Tonto.  Fichtner is fiendishly amoral as the one-dimensional Cavendish, and Wilkinson supplies the presence of greed and capitalism.  Wilson’s role seems like an afterthought.  Bonham Carter chews up the scenery, as usual, although her role seems inserted into the mix as well.

Director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean, second third and fourth installments, Rango) relies too heavily on SFX during the second half of the film, when the real interest lies in the relationship between its two principals, their history and cultural differences.  Instead the focus is on almost mindless action and interminable bouts of alternating gun supremacy i.e. who has the upper hand this time?  After a while, no one cares anymore.  The film would have benefitted from tighter editing; losing about 15 or 20 minutes of extraneous detours and dalliances would restore some of its initial humor and integrity.

More is not always better.  (Clayton) Moore would probably agree.

 

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