The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger ★★

First of all, this must be said: Johnny Depp's portrayal of Tonto- and the fact that he played the part in the first place- is hugely troubling. Not only is Tonto one of the few (if not the only) Native American characters in pop culture, making the fact that a white actor played him even more insulting, but the part itself is hugely offensive and underwritten. Yes, I understand that this character is very similar to the Tonto seen in the original "Lone Ranger" series, but times have changed and what's politically correct has shifted. And this depiction of Tonto is anything but politically correct- it's just offensive.

Anyway- this is a bad film, but it's no where near as bad as some would like it to be. It's not even like I need to stretch to find something I like about it- the cinematography and set design is pretty damn impressive. And, while this ended up causing many of the film's most glaring problems, it's clear that Gore Vebranski is more interested than creating a summer blockbuster that only exists to sell action figures. That's gotta count for something- right?

Still, "The Lone Ranger" is a clusterfuck of different concepts, ideas and tones that have no business being in the same film. This is a film that makes lame attempts at bathroom humor one minute, and then talks about genocide and cannibalism the next. It's not that I want my blockbuster entertainment to be made for the lowest common denominator, thus removing any sense of edge, but the film's content here is strange and completely out of place. The film also has major pacing issues, stemming largely from the fact that it's about 45 minutes too long and has too many supporting characters. The film also throws some typical action-movie archetypes into the mix- namely a poorly developed romance of sorts between Armie Hammer and Ruth Wilson- and none of it feels necessary. I'll give the film this- it doesn't feel like any major studio summer film I've seen. But that's not a good thing when the result feels like a giant mess and not a brave attempt at something unique.

The performances are also pretty weak. I'd be a bit more willing to forgive the cultural appropriation on display if Depp had turned in a decent performance as Tonto, but he just seems intent on phoning it in over and over again. Armie Hammer also has negative screen presence here, and I'm still trying to figure out what Helena Bonham Carter or Tom Wilkinson were doing here. The only good performance of the bunch was James Badge Dale, and he really didn't have enough screen time to make an impression.

I didn't exactly go in with the highest expectations, so calling "The Lone Ranger" a disappointment feels misleading, but I do think that their was the potential for a good film somewhere in here. Unfortunately, the film's overstuffed script and tonally confused direction stopped that from happening.

Drinking game idea: Take a shot every time rape is mentioned or threatened. Then remember that this is a film produced by Disney and marketed towards children, and take another shot. You won't be drunk too quickly but, rest assured, you will be drunk by the end of the movie.