Most Disney films do quite well at the box office, but every now and then a flop comes along. Even though I loved the movie myself, the studio considers John Carter to be a miserable failure. Westerns don’t do very well in the theater these days. One would think a producer investing in a movie about a masked outlaw and his Indian companion in the Old West would work out about as well as putting the money in a few bags and throwing it into a fiery furnace. Apparently, not if the Indian happens to be Johnny Depp and the director is Pirates of the Caribbean helmsman Gore Verbinski.
John Reid rides along with his Texas Ranger brother to track down a ruthless bandit. After the group of lawmen is killed in an ambush, Reid is left for dead. Native American Tonto finds the injured Reid and nurses him back to health. It’s now left up to the unlikely union of these two very different men to track down the killer of Reid’s brother and bring him to justice.
Are American audiences ready to accept an old-fashioned Western? I think they are. Especially if it’s disguised as a summer action / adventure blockbuster from explosive producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp is leading the way. And let’s be honest, Johnny Depp IS leading the way. He commands every scene he is in and his presence overshadows Armie Hammer’s.
The movie might be called The Lone Ranger, but its Tonto telling the tale and he basically guides the title character throughout. The hero’s Indian friend saves his life countless times and even creates the masked alter ego. The Lone Ranger just sort of eeks his way through all the trials and tribulations thrown in front of him.
By no means am I saying I didn’t like The Lone Ranger. It’s packed full of great action sequences and delivers all sorts of thrills. Armie Hammer does a great job showing the difficulty his character of John Reid has taking on the role of the Lone Ranger. It’s a true origin story, showing a man’s burdensome transformation from proper lawyer to gun slinging servant of justice.
I enjoyed how The Lone Ranger felt like a true Western. Every character was dirty throughout the entire film. There were no fashion cowboys to be seen anywhere. All the sets looked genuine and what CGI there was blended well with the actors and props. It was a well-made and believable period piece that will age gracefully.
I was surprised by the amount of violence in the film. The movie wasn’t overly gory, but was graphic. There’s a lot of deaths portrayed onscreen. Parents should definitely heed the PG-13 rating.
One thing that bothered me in the movie was when a lady asks John Reid if he wants to sing church hymns with her and he replies that his book of the law is his Bible. He insinuates he doesn’t believe in God. That goes against the moral code laid out by Lone Ranger creators Fran Striker and George W. Trendle. One of the masked hero’s creeds reads, “I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.” Of course this happens before he turns into the Lone Ranger and realizes that his idea of serving justice doesn’t always work. Maybe he has a change of heart when he accepts his destiny.
The Lone Ranger delivers plenty of action and a solid storyline which, though predictable, will hold the viewer’s attention. I just hope that if there is a sequel, we’ll get more of the Lone Ranger with our Tonto. Next time, let’s have a fully trained and action-ready masked avenger who can hold his own. I understand there had to be some character development in this origin film, but let’s move on now that we have all that established.