The Lone Ranger (2013)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

USA, 2013, , , Screen story by , Screenplay by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio.  Cinematography by Produced by , Music by Production Design by , Costume Design by Film Editing by ,

The perfect example of a film that doesn’t equal the sum of its parts, this adventure meant to serve a nostalgia for cliffhanger westerns is graced with a top-flight cast, excellent visual effects, production design that shows the money on screen and a sturdy script, yet it never lifts off the ground despite the best of efforts from everyone involved.  plays the peaceful attorney who comes home to late nineteenth-century Texas in the hopes that his book-learnin’ will be of some use to the lawless west, finding out very quickly that he is wrong. Out on a scouting mission with his brother and his merry band of Texas rangers, Hammer witnesses his entire company murdered before his eyes by an evil outlaw (an outstanding ), and barely survives the incident himself. Through a series of happy coincidences, he is teamed up with an indigenous loner named Tonto () and they experience a series of complications before their true mission is revealed to them: Hammer must become an outlaw in order to uphold the law, and must do something about the white men who are looking to destroy the Comanches in the name of greed. Gore Verbinski’s direction is full of energy and excitement, but perhaps a second glance at the film would have revealed to him that it really doesn’t need to be two and a half hours long; casting in a pivotal role tells us what the outcome of the story will be and forces us to wait out an overdue revelation that anyone over twelve can guess well in advance. Hammer is, as always, solid without being dazzling, while Depp inspires conflicted feelings, at once charismatic and timed to perfection but never actually convincing as a Comanche; there’s an ambivalence here to present at once the kind of animated myth you find in silent movies, rife with sidekick jokes, as well as a fully-loaded character who speaks the language and performs religious rituals. The result comes off as method-actor imitation by a performer who is more interested in playing Buster Keaton as an Indian rather than the real thing, and the fact that the screenplay itself hints at demythologizing westerns by presenting Europeans as destructive to the west and not its saviours doesn’t really wipe away this discomfort. Overall I’d say its highly publicized failure at the box office was its poor anticipating of audience trends (no one under ninety has any nostalgia for cliffhanger westerns, or specifically, the television show that this is based on), but it doesn’t help that it’s also a very vague movie, demanding more attention from its audience than it delivers on detail. That said, don’t be surprised if you enjoy a lot of it, and don’t act like you’ve been made to sit through Wild Wild West if you don’t, because that is simply not the case.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Makeup and Hairstyling; Best Visual Effects

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