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I went in to this film with expectations that were not so high. It wasn’t that I thought that the film would be bad. I just didn’t think it would be particularly mind blowing. The trailers made this film seem like the standard summer popcorn adventure film. In fact, my initial thoughts on what the movie might be like was that it looked like Pirates of the Caribbean disguised as a Western. Was that the case? Well, yes and no. Headlined by Johnny Depp, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and directed by Gore Verbinski, the team behind Pirates, it seemed that if anything, this film would be decent at best.
Set in the late 1860’s, the construction of a new railroad that promises to change cross country travel serves as the backdrop of the story, as is a tense peace treaty between the Native Americans and the townspeople. The heart of this tale though, is really the journey to justice. Comanche warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) and the lawyer/ex-Texas Ranger/reluctant hero John Reid (Armie Hammer) unwittingly join forces to stop a particularly nasty outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) from carrying out his dastardly plans.
‘Dastardly’. Doesn’t that word sound like it could be from a corny line you might hear in an old Lone Ranger television episode? I guarantee that while this film has its corny aspects, it is nowhere near as corny (or offensive) as the television show is. Speaking of corny and unbelievable things, one of the things I find most interesting about this film is the relationship between Tonto and Reid. I recently watched the old television show and I noticed that Tonto is almost hopelessly devoted to serving Reid as his trustee sidekick (and he is a sidekick, let me tell you). A corny and implausible relationship indeed by today’s standards.
However, Johnny Depp’s Tonto thankfully couldn’t be more of a departure from the original. This Tonto has a mission of his own that requires him to recruit the services of Reid, not the other way around. He is also quite instrumental in the development of Ried as a character and helps him really understand what it is they are fighting for from a less idealistic perspective. There is also great tension between the two that is both serious and yet comical. You feel as though the two are equals, which I appreciated.
Depp, who was as good as you might expect, had great chemistry with Hammer, who did a pretty good job portraying the young, idealistic lawyer with a strong moral code who becomes disillusioned with the law and eventually moves outside of it in order to fight to protect it. Hammer is so delightfully square and uncool, like the bumbling Clark Kent of the old Superman films, that you can’t help but root for him on his path to accept his destiny as the Lone Ranger. He’s the city boy out of place, the fish out of water in the Wild West and he is such for so long that when he finally becomes the Lone Ranger, which in my opinion doesn’t really happen until the film’s final act, the payoff is rewarding.
I have to mention that I was really impressed by Hans Zimmer’s fantastic score for this film. I enjoyed particularly how he treats that Lone Ranger theme (William Tell Overture) with such respect and when it comes in, you feel a warmth inside your spirit. I did. For someone who was never really a huge fan of the character, I still felt like I was witnessing something special: The Lone Ranger’s ride. I’ve always been a fan of Zimmer, who’s coming off of last month’s Man of Steel, which is also a cool score. Here he gets an A in my book.
So at the end of the day, this film is a decent summer popcorn flick. It isn’t a particularly deep film, although it has moments that could have gone a little deeper. It has a healthy dose of humor, a bit of pathos and it manages to succeed in giving us a film that’s still fun even though it didn’t necessarily wow me. That said, I did enjoy the ride and I would recommend giving it a look because it was better than I thought it would be.