Johnny Depp is playing in a Western, something I didn’t think to see in my lifetime. But this is no ordinary spaghetti Western and Depp is no John Wayne.
Yet, The Lone Ranger is getting some awful reviews, such as; a bloated, wacky, wide-screen re-imagining of an iconic but old television series from the 50‘s, bad western version of Pirates of the Caribbean, odd as in “What were these people thinking?” and mostly, that the movie is too long and incoherent, all of which I think are off the mark.
The movie tells the story of John Reid (Armie Hammer) a masked hero, who is “out to right the wrongs”, and his constant Indian sidekick Tonto, played flawlessly by Johnny Depp. It is also a story of exploration and corruption during the early American history, translated into a creative and beautiful motion picture, which just might have been too honest for a huge part of the American audiences. The film is also tinged with subtle touches of fantasy and mythology.
The narrative of the “Lone Ranger” begins as occasional flashbacks into the point of origination. The story starts with a wide-eyed kid (Mason Cook), wearing a white cowboy hat and a black mask, exploring a Wild West museum at a carnival show in 1933, San Francisco.
He stops at the counter labelled “The Noble Savage” to assess a wrinkly, arched figure wearing a mounted crow as headgear. With the magic of a children’s tale, the Indian comes alive. He is Tonto, and gears up to tell the boy about how John Reid, a learned lawyer from the East who arrived in Colby, Texas, back in 1869 with a copy of John Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government” tucked under his arm, became the masked Lone Ranger.
With everything flung at you at the same pitch and speed, the film keeps you hooked. The film is certainly a visual delight, with beautiful John Ford-style vistas amalgamated with a score inspired by Ennio Morricone and action set pieces that minimize the use of CGI whenever possible.
Also, director Gore Verbinski is one of the best directors working today who is never mentioned in conversations about the best studio directors working today, and I have yet to encounter an argument against this statement. I think Verbinski is extremely talented at pushing the limits on how weird a mass-audience movie can get without going too far. And I don’t think he went too far in this respect with The Lone Ranger, the “oddness” that he adds is the one of the thing that makes the film interesting.
So basically, by now we all know The Lone Ranger is old – a story first told before World War II and reprised a number of times since then, but a wonderful fresh touch has been applied to the 2013 story and it is a gem.
It combines an intriguing story, some wonderful comic moments from Depp and the action to make a well-rounded and surprisingly great package.
“Tonto’s got a bird on his head. It’s his spirit guide in a way. It’s dead to others, but it’s not dead to him. It’s very much alive.”