Written by / 7/03/2013 / No comments / , , , ,

JOHNNY DEPP & ARMIE HAMMER IN THE LONE RANGER

year: 2013 cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Rebecca Reid rating: **
Anyone familiar with the Comedy/Western LITTLE BIG MAN will recognize the first ten minutes of THE LONE RANGER... The main character, noticeably aged, tells the story we’re all about to see: It’s Tonto spinning a yarn to a gullible young tyke – and yes, the quirky Native American’s even more important than John Reid, played by Armie Hammer, a young lawyer so annoyingly honest you’ll want to knock his block off. Well Tonto sure does... And we don’t have to wait long for the best sequence: a high speed train escape where the duo, chained together at the wrists, survive the impossible... and then some. Here Director Gore Verbinski moves the action with sublime finesse – but there's a long two hours to go.

Johnny Depp’s Tonto is a little like his PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN Captain Jack Sparrow. During any situation he can be relied on for dry wit – but here he plays it a bit too dry. Seeming like an intentional imitation of those old school "Indian" characters, with halting speech trying to over-pronounce each word, Depp gets stuck with a one-note expression: balancing dimwitted surprise and world-weary agile. Like the film itself it’s never clear if he’s silly, serious, brave or banal. And with a caked white face striped with black streaks, resembling a chocolate swirl cookie, and a dead crow strapped to a grungy turban, the preposterous costume, attempting to define his character, ultimately hinders the performance.

Meanwhile a square-jawed Hammer plays Reid, brought back to life after a well-filmed bloody massacre (aesthetically reminiscent of the maligned 80's RANGER), like such a stubborn, naive, idealistic dork he's just begging to come around to a more primitive/vengeful outlook. Up against William Fichtner’s cutthroat Butch Cavendish and another unnamed villain (whose nefarious intentions shouldn’t be spoiled), with Tonto's help he eventually morphs into a bonafide superhero, mask and all.

With a two-and-a-half hour run time, including a bloated midsection replete with farfetched mysticism, tedious bouts of rambling backstory, and a preachy message against industrial “progression" (would there be a Hollywood without it?), perhaps a leaner, tighter pace would make this LONE a more involving and less of a chore. Thankfully, during the William Tell blaring climax, we get another cool train sequence to make one forget (and partially forgive) all the downtime in-between.
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