The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp ride again. Despite a performance that’s at times a bit strained, Depp is extremely entertaining as the wise Native American of few words, Tonto. And coming along for the ride is the always adorable, and affably befuddled, Armie Hammer as the Ranger.
This is a classic Western, but as directed by Gore Verbinski, the genre has been turned just slightly on its head. The result is breathtaking scenery, bloody gun battles, fantastic horseback riding, and the most outrageous chase scene on a train you have ever seen, trust me.
The dialogue is, for the most part, classic Western grunts and clichés, but there are some modern phrases thrown in. Rather than detract from the feel of the film, I think they are in keeping with the tongue-in-cheek sensibility the Depp and Verbinski brought to the Pirates franchise as well.
Armie Hammer plays the straight arrow Ranger to great effect, and he really is quite adorable, but the show belongs to Depp. The film is told in flashback via the device of seeing Depp as an old man, in a very convincing and yet very disturbing Old Skin Suit. Trust me, it’s a sight you can’t unsee.
It wouldn’t be the Lone Ranger without Silver the horse (and in this case, the Wonder Horse), or the William Tell overture, but since this is an origin story, the iconic sound doesn’t make an appearance until near the end. And the classic “Hi-o, Silver! Away!” is also only uttered once.
There are fantastic performances by the supporting cast, including William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter, and James Badge Dale.
The script is very well-written for such a complicated yarn as this. Since they had to set up the entire idea of the Lone Ranger, Tonto & Silver, and then tell a story on top of that, I’m very impressed at how well it tied itself up in a bow at the end.
But the plot itself is immaterial compared to the characters of Tonto and the Lone Ranger. Not only are they arrestingly handsome to watch on screen, and their delivery just delicious to listen to, their characters are such that all you need to know is they are the good guys, out to get the bad guys. Any bad guys will do.
I had a delightful time watching the film, even though there are some pretty graphic violent moments, and my fingers are crossed for a sequel.