The Old West, 1869. After a group of Texas Rangers are ambushed by a dangerous gang of outlaws, lawyer John Reid (Hammer) is left for dead in the desert. Found and nursed back to health by a native American named Tonto (Depp), Reid swears to avenge the fallen Rangers by finding and bringing said gang to justice. Becoming a masked avenger, he and Tonto join forces as they stumble across a larger conspiracy that involves an incomplete transcontinental railroad…
The good news about The Lone Ranger, Disney’s big-budget adaptation of the enduring American icon, is that it isn’t the merit-less disaster many were expecting. The bad news, though, is that it’s still a largely predictable, by-the-numbers blockbuster that staggers messily between slapstick pratfalls, solemn flashbacks and huge CGI set pieces like a drunken cowboy after a day at the rum saloon. Reuniting filmmaker Gore Verbinski with quirky muse Johnny Depp, the disappointing news is that their latest collaboration shares more in common with the Pirates Of The Caribbean sequels than it does Rango, suffering from a similarly bloated 149-minute running-time that is, quite simply, far longer that it needs to be.
Overcooked and over-plotted, there are too many scenes that feel like deleted extras, while the entire framing device (where a young boy speaks to an old Tonto at a Wild West exhibit in 1933) is just plain unnecessary. In spite of this, The Lone Ranger – The Long Ranger? – is still reasonably fun at times and great to look at, with cinematographer Bojan Bazzelli deserving of a mention for the striking Old West vistas he provides throughout. But while Johnny Depp nabs a few moments with an impressively deadpan performance, there’s little chemistry between his ‘sidekick’ (who’s as much a leading man as the titular ranger) and Armie Hammer’s moralistic hero. During the last thirty minutes, Hans Zimmer’s arrangement of the William Tell Overture attempts to convince us that what we’re watching is rousing and exciting, but on the whole there’s far too much that falls flat.
While occasionally fun and far from the disaster many predicted, The Lone Ranger is over-plotted and over-long. More Pirates Of The Caribbean than Rango.