The Lone Ranger
dir Gore Verbinski
prd Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski
scr Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
with Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale, Bryant Prince, Barry Pepper, Harry Treadaway, James Frain, Mason Elston Cook
release US 3.Jul.13, UK 9.Aug.13
13/US Disney 2h29
The Lone Ranger
Another fine mess: Depp and Hammer

wilkinson fichtner bonhamcarter
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The Lone Ranger Depp creates yet another quirky goofball for this comical Western epic, again throwing the whole movie off-balance. Which in this case robs the title figure of any real sense of dynamism. But even with its unnecessary excessiveness, the movie is sharply put together: it looks terrific, and there's never a dull moment.

In late-1860s Texas, Tonto (Depp) is being transported with vicious killer Cavendish (Fichtner) when their train is attacked. Cavendish escapes, and John Reid (Hammer) is deputised by his Texas Ranger brother Dan (Dale) to hunt down Cavendish. When the posse is ambushed, John is the lone survivor, helped back to health by Tonto. And together they launch a secret mission to sort out the mess, which involves the construction of America's first transcontinental railway, tensions between the European settlers and the Comanche natives and a secret silver mine in them thar hills.

As the script dribbles details from the back-story, the the story makes less logical sense, so we have little choice but to go along with the energetic mayhem. Essentially, the convoluted plot merely exists to link the wildly cartoonish set-pieces over the course of two and a half hours. But at least they're expertly staged, with first-rate stunts and effects that make up for the rampant implausibilities.

Characters are a checklist of Western types. Wilkinson lends some gravitas as the railway boss, with Pepper as the gung-ho cavalry leader. As Dan's wife and John's former crush, Wilson is the feisty Western babe who provides damsel-in-distress moments. Fichtner is perfectly cast as the literally snarling villain, while Bonham Carter walks off with the movie in just three scenes as the town's sardonic madam.

Hammer does what he can with John, the most likeable character even though he's a bit of a dork. We root for him even though we never doubt that he'll emerge heroically triumphant with the help of his too-nutty sidekick, played by Depp exactly as expected. And all of this extra business weighs the film down: too much silly nonsense, too much of the framing story set inexplicably in a 1933 San Francisco museum, too many big effect scenes when some gritty, honest tension would have been much more entertaining.

cert 12 themes, strong violence, innuendo 10.Jul.13

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