After all of the terrible reviews and the bad word-of-mouth, I was expecting to write a review of The Lone Ranger that would decry it as the end of civilization as we know it. But guess what? I liked it!
I know I'm a little late to this party, but given all of the bad press, I wasn't willing to pay to see this film – even when it was only $5 on pay cable. But then it was available for free. So I hunkered down for what I thought would be the ultimate endurance test, only to find a fun, if flawed, movie that I could view with my mind set on idle. Damning with faint praise, perhaps; the movie certainly has its faults, and Clayton Moore it ain't. But, perhaps because of all of the derision heaped on it from all sides, I was expecting a much bigger steaming pile to assault my senses, and that level of badness just didn't register with me.
Bookended by two tremendously energetic action pieces set on moving trains, the film only lags a bit in the middle, when a little tightening-up in the editing room could have made a world of difference. The first drawback the film has is that Clayton Moore is no longer around to play the title character; for those of us who grew up with Moore's version of the Ranger, that's a major hurdle to get over. Then there's the fact that the screenplay is an origin story, something required in a film that aspires to be the frontrunner of a superhero franchise (and make no mistake: the Lone Ranger is a superhero, set in the Old West; like Batman, he has no super powers – beyond the ability to fire unlimited rounds of ammo from a pair of six-shooters -, but he is a hero that kids dreamed of being as they grew up). Origin stories of established characters force the screenwriters to adhere to a pre-set tale, while trying to bring something new and exciting to the mix.
Part of that “new and exciting” mix in this film is to make Tonto the primary focus of the film. Bad move, even if you have a talented actor like Johnny Depp to fill the role. Armie Hammer may be a good actor, but he can't match Depp's quirky performance; and the role as written doesn't do him any favors. What we get is the Lone Ranger as second banana in his own film, portrayed as a bit of a stuffed-shirt buffoon until the climax, when the movie requires him to turn into the iconic hero and dead-eye shot that the legendary Ranger was in movies and TV shows past.
Still, if you can get past the obvious flaws that this film drags along with it like the railcars full of silver ore that the locomotives haul throughout the movie's climax, The Lone Ranger is a fun piece of film; a popcorn movie that's shy a bit of melted butter in the middle, but very watchable in an afternoon-to-kill kind of way.