Austin Gorski’s review published on Letterboxd:
"There come a time when good man must wear mask."
"The Lone Ranger" has gotten a lot of slack recently. From the production issues, the controversial casting, and now the bad reviews from critics, this seems like a film you shouldn't see. But surprisingly, it is a fun adventure film with some great special effects and full of spectacle. Even though it may be too dark and too over the top for those who know the original source material, younger audiences and fans of Johnny Depp won't be disappointed if they see it over the Fourth of July weekend.
Many people that I've talked to have said that they didn't want to see this because the previews looked terrible and that because it was from Disney, it would be really kid-friendly. Even though the film did have some pretty lackluster marketing, this is in no way a kids film, despite what the ads claim. Slit throats, cannibalism, dead animals, and brothels are all present here, so if you were thinking about bringing a young kid to watch this, be warned because this is easily the darkest film that Disney has ever made.
Director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) sure knows how to make a film look expensive. Every set piece, and even the "small" character driven scenes, look very costly and makes the film feel much more cinematic. The cinematography as well as the special effects stand out particularly.
One of the major criticisms towards the film so far is that it is tonally a mess. To me, it wasn't as bad as the recent "White House Down". While there are some moments where the dark grittiness and the fun and kid-friendly adventure parts just don't work (after a brutal murder, we then see the lead being dragged through horse crap), for the most part they blend together pretty well.
Another major criticism from critics is that the film is just too long. To me, it wasn't that long, and besides, it's about the same length as some recent blockbusters like "Iron Man 3" and "Man of Steel". But if there were a few things that I could cut out, one would be Helena Bottom Carter's character (I don't know why she's on the main poster because she's only in the film for about five minutes). Tom Wilkinson's character felt out of place at first, but in the large scheme of things, he fits in pretty well. Barry Pepper's character was also pretty useless, but he hammed up his performance so much, I couldn't help but enjoy him.
Speaking of hamming up performances, William Fichtner as Butch was so over the top and sadistic that he was easily my favorite character in the film. Hell, if he hadn't been reduced to a pawn in the last act, he probably would be my favorite villain from this year so far. And even though I usually don't like Johnny Depp, he wasn't that bad in this as the wisecracking Tonto. Arnie Hammer as The Lone Ranger is pretty decent with what he's given, which disappointingly isn't much.
Which leads me to my only major criticism; The Lone Ranger isn't the lead of his own film. Don't let the title fool you, from the very beginning, this is Tonto's movie. Tonto is much more developed and actually has a reason to hate both the lead villains, unlike The Ranger. Tonto even fights the main villain, which felt really odd for a movie named The Lone Ranger. It just feels as if Disney knew that Depp was much more marketable than Hammer, therefore, they beefed up his performance. It's a shame really, because Hammer has potential.
Overall, this feels like another installment to the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. It has the same tone, same lead, and feel that those films did. Take that as you will. And even though this isn't as good as the first "Pirates" film, it's certainly better than the sequels. If anything, this proves that even though he tends to bloat his films, Verbinski knows how to make an adventure movie full of spectacle and fun. If you enjoyed the "Pirates" films or just enjoy an action film that doesn't take itself seriously all the time, you should give this one a shot.
"If those men represent the law, then I'd rather be an outlaw."