Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
I'm a kid watching ancient reruns of the 1950's TV show 'The Lone Ranger' and my uncle, the esteemed… you know… I probably shouldn't say his name since he's semi-famous in the circles he runs in and probably doesn't want his colleagues to be aware of his myriad of youthful indiscretions.  Anyway, my uncle stopped and said 'Hey, you know what Kemosabe means?'  According to my uncle, it's Indian for Stupid M.F.  He actually pronounced the words and didn't say M.F.  The thing is, if you watch the show or watch the movie and simply substitute Stupid M.F. at anytime Tonto says Kemosabe… it makes total sense.  Lone Ranger… 'Let's take them Tonto!'  Tonto… 'No… Them many bad men… Stupid M.F.'  See?  It works.  Well I just saw this HUGE new movie… a quarter BILLION dollars huge, 'The Lone Ranger'.  Guess who's being called Kemosabe right now?  Yes, that would be me.

Armie Hammer is John Reid, a hard working, pacifist, District Attorney on a train ride from here to there.  Also on this train is the cannibal scalawag Butch Cavendish (William Fitchner) being carted off to the gallows for a hanging, but chained next to him is the war painted Native American Tonto (Johnny Depp).  The Texas Rangers are awaiting delivery of Cavendish, but his crew has already plotted the break out and the train is attacked.  Thing is Tonto figured as much and was only on the train to get close to Cavendish to end his life for crimes against humanity, but alas his plan is thwarted by the goodie two-shoes nincompoop John Reid.  Ultimately Cavendish escapes, mainly due to Reid's gross incompetence, and Tonto is not happy.

Sifting through the nonsense of this movie, eventually Reid's brother and head Texas Ranger Dan (James Badge Dale) heads up a posse of his men to find Cavendish.  He takes his brother along, even though he refuses to carry a gun.  They're ambushed, everybody is killed, John is mortally wounded but chosen by the spirit horse, via Tonto, to be resurrected and become a great warrior to avenge all wrongs.
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The problem is that John doesn't believe in any of this rigmarole.  I mean he's truly a non-believer.  In fact in the movie that runs a whopping two and a half hours, John Reid doesn't full become the Lone Ranger until the hour and fifty five minute mark.  I was clocking it.  I mean he wears the mask on occasion and will pull out his gun with his shaky aim, but he doesn't resign himself that he's the Lone Ranger, the title of this movie, until the two hour mark.  Only the TV show Smallville has a longer origin story featuring a dude destined to become the hero we know he has to be.

While we wait for this to happen, there is a lot of stuff to see and do.  John longs for his dead brothers wife (Ruth Wilson), there's a railroad executive to deal with (Tom Wilkinson) who we know is up to no darn good, There's a madwoman who has a gun embedded in her wooden leg (Helena Bonham Carter), there's a tragic Tonto back story to sift through, there's the slaughter of Native Americans coupled against the backdrop of slapstick… but mostly we just sit there absolutely hating the ninny John Reid.  Or maybe that was just me. 

I'm no movie executive, I have no skills in this arena and I've never made a movie.  Well, there was that short film a few years back about how to behave in a porno store… but we'll ignore that for now.  My point is… surely somebody along the chain of command must've thought 250 million dollars and 2.5 hours is a bit much for a character who was shelved long before most everybody who they want to watch this movie was even alive?  Including me, and I'm not a young guy.  Every once in a while, you watch a film and just wish they would've played it straight.  Kept it simple.  Didn't show us 'what they could do'.   I realize Gore Verbinski directed and he, at least in his current persona, makes big obnoxious movies, but this was a holy mess, and it totally didn't have to be that way.

Armie Hammer was a fine choice to play the Lone Ranger.  He fits.  He's a tall, good looking, deep voiced, strong chinned white guy.  Perfect.  But the way the character was written, John Wayne himself couldn't have saved the Lone Ranger.  Then there was Johnny Depp who I think pulled out everything in his stocked acting arsenal while playing Tonto, to save this movie.  Sometimes it actually worked, but the movie was such a mishmash of stuff, I mean this movie had demonic bunny rabbits for goodness sakes, that most of the time Poor Johnny was stuck looking at the sky with his arms open appearing to say 'Why am I here?'  He did that more than once in this movie.  I'm thinking it was the money Johnny.

So the movie had some spectacular action sequences, I mean 250 mil should buy you at least that, and it had some inspired casting, but imagine a movie that cost 150 million dollars less, ran fifty minutes shorter, and played like a traditional western while sticking closer to the legend.  I know that would mean no cannibal bad guys, no one legged whores, no vampire bunnies, a bare minimum of slapstick and it was would also mean we'd have a hero who was ready to start avenging wrongs fifteen minutes in as opposed to two hours in, but that would've made for a movie a better I think.  I know Keeping It Simple isn't sexy and somebody is going to have a helluva write off at years end, but sometimes, with some stories, Keeping it Simple works best.  But I'm no movie executive so what the heck do I know?  Relax Will Smith.  There's now a modern movie Western out there worst than 'Wild, Wild, West'.
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