This is a hard review to write. After watching previews and behind-the-scenes featurettes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – aimed toward families – I had high hopes that The Lone Ranger would be at least a fun romp through the Wild West. Real stunts take the place of CGI, which I still find impressive.
Unfortunately, the film lacks heart.
And by lacking heart, I mean it figuratively and literally. The violence in The Lone Ranger was absolutely shocking to me, especially at a film that is aimed toward the family market. I’ve seen much tamer R rated films, and I have no idea how The Lone Ranger ended up with a PG-13 rating. The heart? The Lone Ranger’s brother Dan (James Badge Dale) has his cut out by the villainous Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), who eats it. It is a gruesome scene, and I spent part of it hiding behind my hands. In fact, I spent much of the film with my eyes darting back and forth from the screen and with fingers in my ears. And, oh – the Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) wasn’t really the Lone Ranger yet, he is a lawyer named John Reid who hates guns and violence, always wanting to do the right thing. I wish the film felt the same way.
If I was not reviewing the film, I would have walked out after the heart scene.
Unfortunately, brutal violence is sustained throughout much of the film. There are moments that are supposed to be lighthearted as well, but I never laughed once during The Lone Ranger – the “jokes” always seemed to follow the violence in an extremely uneven way.
The film opens with a young boy looking at carnival exhibits, including one of “The Noble Savage”. Unbeknownst to the lad, the aged Tonto (Johnny Depp) – and by aged, I mean Tonto is alive but appears he could collapse into a pile of dust with one sneeze – is featured inexplicably inside the exhibit, and talks to him about how he and the Lone Ranger came to be. These were the most enjoyable scenes for me in The Lone Ranger, mostly because I knew that nobody was going to be brutally attacked.
The film runs off the rails pretty quickly with an ironically named villain named Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson) – who has an interest in coal, get it? And Helena Bonham Carter, a madame who can shoot bullets with her ivory leg. I don’t really know what to make of Johnny Depp as Tonto, and Armie Hammer was fine but bland as the Lone Ranger.
Without the heavy violence, I would have enjoyed The Lone Ranger much more, even with the muddled storyline.
The Lone Ranger clocks in at a very long 2 1/2 hours, which seemed like an eternity to me. The climactic scene with the William Tell Overture is what the film should have been all along, and it takes about 2 hours to get to it.
Disney had the opportunity to create a popcorn film for families and a hero for kids. The Lone Ranger offers neither.
If you are looking to watch a family film this weekend, see Despicable Me 2.
Mousesteps Grade: C-