The Lone Ranger Review
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He made a name for himself directing Disneyís action-packed Pirates of the Caribbean movies. He won an Oscar for the animated Western, Rango. Now director Gore Verbinski returns to both Disney and the Wild West for his long-winded Western adventure, The Lone Ranger.

Set in a tiny town in Texas in 1869, The Lone Ranger tells the story of a by-the-book lawman who sets out to bring a ruthless criminal to justice. John Reid (Armie Hammer) returns to his Texas home, eager to bring his own civilized brand of justice to the Wild West as the new county prosecutor. But when his brother is killed by escaped prisoner Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), John is torn between his faith in the legal system and his need for vengeance.

  
 
Joined by an eccentric Comanche named Tonto (Johnny Depp), who has his own reasons for tracking Cavendish, John dons a mask and becomes the mysterious Lone Ranger.

The Lone Ranger is a remarkably conflicted film. At times, itís thrilling and playful, with loads of light-hearted action. At other times, itís dark and heavy and shockingly violent. Itís as if Verbinski wasnít quite sure whether he wanted to make a serious, grown-up Western or a wacky family adventure starring Johnny Depp, so he chose the tone on a scene-by-scene basis.

While the directorís Pirates adventures were generally action-packed from beginning to end, The Lone Ranger builds incredibly slowly, taking its dear, sweet time to introduce the characters and their histories (and even framing it all in a bizarre set-up involving an ancient Tonto telling the whole story to a little boy at a San Francisco fair). In fact, an entire hour passes before John finally dons the mask and sets out with Tonto to find Cavendish and his menóand itís a pretty slow hour at that. The pacing is definitely that deliberate, Western-style pacingóand it makes for a very long and drawn-out two-and-a-half-hour runtime.

Of course, there are still plenty of things to appreciate about this adventure. The frontier setting is often breathtaking. While Deppís rather cartoonish performance may sometimes feel out of place, the expressive star is always fun to watch. And when Hammer is allowed to let loose a little, heís a lovable ham, too. But the best part of the film is its last half-hour: a big, bold action sequence full of wild and crazy slapstick stunts that play out over a classic Lone Ranger score. Itís so much fun, in fact, that it makes the rest of the film feel like just a really long (two-hour) build-up to 30 minutes of spectacular Wild West action.

Had all of The Lone Ranger been more like its wildly entertaining conclusion, it would have been one fun-filled Wild West thriller. Instead, itís awkward and uneven and way too longónothing like the playful, Pirates-style adventure that audiences may be expecting.


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