Relative new-comer Arnie Hammer is serviceable in the title role, John Reid a former lawyer finds himself deputized as a Texas Ranger, and out to avenge the murder of his lawman brother during an set-up ambush. Left for dead in the scrimmage, Reid barely survives and is discovered clinging to life by an odd Indian named Tonto. Depp’s interpretation of the famous radio-serial character is to treat his intentions seriously, while wandering through the movie sporting a dead stuffed crow atop his head-dress. The running gag is that the spiritually aware Indian is waiting for the animal to return to life, and he continually offers the dead pet feed. The two outcasts turn outlaws in an attempt to bring to justice a murderous bandit (William Fichtner), and take down a corrupt railroad Barron (Tom Wilkinson).
Remember the hub-bub over the new ‘PG-13’ rating in 1984, bestowed on Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom? The conversation nearly thirty years ago now was, is it for kids or adults? The boundaries of the rating have been pushed to its breaking limits here. I can’t remember another Disney production that showcased the genocide of an entire clan, featured a villain who eats his victim’s organs, and another character who is referenced to have lost his genitals in the war. I’m not faulting the film but you have to wonder who the intended target is?
The final act has a masterfully choreographed sequence that involves two trains and the unfolding concurrent events happening on both. Our heroes make their way from horse back to fighting atop a speeding locomotive as it barrels through low-hanging tunnels. The editing and thought put into this climax, is enough alone to recommend the flick. Fortunately it’s a fun-time all around, I never found myself bored and Depp’s schtick worked for me. I have a hunch that as preconceived perceptions fade away, non-cynical audiences will find a lot to champion. The best compliment you can pay The Lone Ranger is that it is no Wild Wild West.
Director: Gore Verbinski
Stars: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner