First appearing on radio way back in 1933, the lone ranger has since become an icon in American culture. Disney latest outing is a re-boot of the 80-year-old franchise and with Gore Verbinski as director (also of numerous Pirates of The Caribbean films), The Lone Ranger looked set to be a hit, striking accord with fans old and new. After a lashing from the American media, likened to the dismal John Carter, is this film another misfire from Disney? Or is it a bull’s-eye for Tonto and his ke-mo sah-bee?
John Reid, the lone ranger (Arnie Hammer), is plunged into a world of crime and deceit as he pairs up with Tonto (Johnny Depp) and Silver to take down a rogue cannibalistic criminal, Butch Cavendish (William Fitchner) in order to avenge his brother’s death, whilst also protecting Rebecca Reid (Ruth Wilson) and her son.
With big names such as Arnie Hammer (The Social Network) and most significantly Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands) it is clear that TLR employs a famous cast to justify the famous characters. Hammer matches Depp’s hilarious dry humour with quirky and hilarious bouts of questionable bravery. Instead of portraying John Reid as a hero with endless skills, Hammer shows him to be human: a man who is thrown into a world he is unfamiliar with and he doesn’t find it easy. A perfect match for his panic and doubt is Depp’s solemn but witty Tonto. Juxtaposed with Reid, Tonto is brave in the face of adversity and his blunt nature grates on the fellow characters, something that Depp humorously shows. From his subtle mannerisms to his quirky tactics, he is an equally funny and thrilling character as Reid, forming a hilarious dynamic, which is pure pleasure to watch.
As well as the duo, a spectrum of actors grace the screen, all of whom make an impact. Fitchner’s Cavendish and Tom Wilkinson’s Cole are chilling but most notable is Ruth Wilson as Rebecca Reid: a damsel in distress turned vigilante, Wilson is accustomed to playing powerful women (Jane Eyre) and this is no exception. Her gritty nature changes in a moments notice to a loving mother, equalling the superb performances of Depp and Hammer.
A long film needs a steady but frequently racy plot. TLR employs a fairly normal story of good versus evil, but there are a few twists and turns along the way to keep to audience guessing. Despite the seemingly sadistic villain, overall it is a light-hearted film and at times touching: Tonto’s beginning and the reason behind his epic journey is especially poignant. Also, a motif of racial stereotypes and their consequences run through the heart of TLR to make it an entertaining movie with a subtle political undertone.
It’s easy to see where the $215 million budget was spent. Numerous special effects, one after the other, are lavish but not excessive, particularly in the climatic chase; it takes its time to mature, but paired with a very apt score by Hans Zimmer, the scene is exhilarating and a perfect climax to the film.
Even with an eye-watering budget, the SFX are overshadowed completely by the natural backdrops. Filmed in numerous American deserts, from the massive canyons where Hammer’s group are ambushed to the ironically pure white mountains in which Butch imprisons Rebecca, TLR boasts an impressive array of settings which uphold the long but not tiresome plot.
Johnny Depp, Ruth Wilson and Arnie Hammer really shine alongside consistently exciting action, emotive sub-stories and astounding visuals, which results in a well-rounded film on all accounts. A brilliant origin story for the iconic pair: hopefully the (misguided) negative response will not discourage Disney from making a sequel to this masterfully exhilarating film. High-ho Silver!