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THE LONE RANGER (review)

By Caitlyn Thompson
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski
Story by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Justin Haythe
Screenplay by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Based on Lone Ranger by Fran Striker, George W. Trendle
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Starring Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, Ruth Wilson, 
James Badge Dale, Helena Bonham Carter
Walt Disney Pictures / Rated PG-13

Gore Verbinski presents another gritty adventure that I thought was simply epic.  

The Lone Ranger is rich with twists and good-hearted lessons (not to mention great witty banter) from the classic tale of the Masked Man, John Reid and his companion, Tonto.

Plus a bunch of suggestively brutal violence.

The movie opens with a fast-paced train heist that immediately thrusts the viewer into a nonstop adventure. The quick pace only slowly down for brief expository flashbacks. The extreme long shots of the Wild, Wild West accompanied by Han’s Zimmer’s musical brilliance is absorbing and nostalgic.

Through the gritted and dusty lens of Gore Verbinski, this film is a raw and visceral illustration very similar to and just as fun as Pirates of the Caribbean.

Verbinski has a talent for presenting stories in brutal barbaric settings.

Right and wrong aren’t always clear and the tone can be dark. But don’t worry, when it gets really violent and sad (or someone eats a piece of raw human flesh) – boom! – horse in a tree! It’s funny for the young viewers. And as it’s Disney, there isn’t too much blood. But with a chilling performance by William Fichtner as Butch Cavendish, Verbinski reminds us that some bad guys, are just bad – there are merciless power seekers and it’s easy to compromise morality at the right price. This evil was a bit refreshing as lately villains are so lovable (Bane, Khan, etc).

As with Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp makes the supporting role the main attraction in his portrayal of Tonto. Johnny Depp disappears into his make up and envelops a culture. Depp resurrects an icon while bringing attention to a much neglected and sensitive subject – the exploitation of Native Americans during railroad expansion.

Verbinski wasn’t shy in loading intense subject matter into the movie.

To that effect, Depp’s Tonto is not a stereotypical sidekick, but an intelligent person very capable of hurt, regret, and vengeance. Tonto’s past not only thickens the plot but legitimizes what would otherwise be a silly and clichéd character. He has different quirks and motives than John Reid, but their similar heartbreak makes them complimentary partners.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Armie Hammer. Still oogling over watching two of him in The Social Network (yes, still), my expectations were low for him to rise above pleasant eye candy. But he is incredible as a genuinely nice guy upholding the law as his hometown’s new deputy prosecutor. His innocence is quickly robbed from him as he witnesses his brother’s murder. Hammer gives real depth to John Reid. The character development across the movie is steady and impressive.

Experiencing the journey with Hammer is hilarious and touching. The chemistry between he and Depp is surprisingly electric and I never felt Hammer dominated scenes just for being large and handsome.

The Lone Ranger feels like a new classic, which I find is rare in this age of trilogies.

And as with the Pirates franchise, I look forward to (and hope to not hate) the inevitable sequel and finale.

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