The Lone Ranger is a catastrophically bland mess, an overlong misfire that stands as one of the most expensive disasters of the summer. The film has no purpose other than to be loud and incoherent, which is a shame given the effort sometimes put through. Coming in at 149 minutes, the movie slogs along from point to point with no connection other than Armie Hammer’s blank stares behind a mask and Johnny Depp’s best efforts at being charming. This is a confusing comedy because it wants to be a Western, yet also pays homage to silent films and other better, nobler efforts. We’ll forget the fact that Johnny Depp is playing an Indian who speaks broken English; even excluding that bit of hidden racism, the movie’s still all over the place.
Armie Hammer is miscast in the lead, pure and simple. He has no semblance of how to be a leading man because he’s given such a thinly written role; he’s defined primarily by his brother (played wonderfully by the great character actor James Badge Dale) and his wife, who becomes a love interest because of reasons. The plot meanders after his brother dies, and the lone ranger dies…and is seemingly brought back to life by a “spirit horse” (later named Silver) with Tonto (Johnny Depp). And did I mention that Tonto is the main character? Every scene revolves around him and his actions, mostly silly in nature. The movie attempts to take dark turns and examine character, but always comes around to sophomoric jokes that hold no relevance to plot. The film almost runs on a boringly repetitive cycle of clichéd action scene, followed by characters bickering, and then a poop joke.
Look, this film’s cast is tremendous. Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, and Helena Bonham Carter are all doing fine enough work given their poorly written roles. But the film they’re surrounded by has no respect for characterizations or sense when it comes to developing a story. There’s no rise and fall here, no ebb-and-flow in terms of where it goes. This is a lifeless film that contains an energetic, lively score by Hans Zimmer that belongs with a better film. The horses have more charm than the actors here and are more fun to watch. It’s really quite remarkable to look at a film with a $250 million budget, an extensive running time, and a lot of talent, and see all of it wasted. The film’s final 30 minutes are genuinely exciting, but they serve as a painful reminder of what the whole could’ve been.
Grade: ★½ (out of 5)