This may contain spoilers. Your mileage may vary. You've been warned, I guess. Don't get me wrong, I like Johnny Depp. Unfortunately for The Lone Ranger, there are times when he can ruin a movie. Mr. Depp has a well-known history of playing weird and whacky characters, from Edward Scissorhands to Willy Wonka to Jack Sparrow to the Mad Hatter. They're all much of a muchness, it's Johnny with a painted face and a twitchy personality. You could interchange them, and no one would notice. He's not a bad actor. He's a scene stealer.
In The Lone Ranger, Depp's Tonto thoroughly overshadows Armie Hammer's titular ranger -- admittedly by intention, as the story is based more around Tonto's history than Lone's -- unfortunately leaving the rest of the cast gasping for recognition.Â Among those you might not have noticed: Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner and Helena Bonham Carter. A personal favourite underrated actor appears also, Leon Rippy as an ageing ranger.
I found the film enjoyable, but suffering from confusion as to what it intended to be. Parts of it are flat-out, blatant and hilarious slapstick. Some are built around fairly blunt insult humour. Certain scenes divulge into basic toilet humour. Others are thinly veiled commentary on racism and the treatment of the Native American people.Â Surrounding all of this is a simple story rooted in some pretty serious drama.
It's difficult to take a character like Tonto seriously when his dialogue switches from lighthearted conversations about the stupidity of a horse to lines like "Blood has been spilled, and the rivers will run red", all the while as he attempts to feed a dead bird some corn. This wouldn't be so bad, were it not for the scenes that set up his character's behaviour coming at least half way into the epic 149 minute running time.
There're also a few dischordant moments where an idea is set up to be quite sacred or respected, only to have the piss pulled out of it a few scenes later, usually by Depp's peculiar character. While it's hard to call any action "breaking character" for someone who's clearly not the full quid to begin with, it's a little awkward as a viewer to be fed what seems to be a subtle moral concept, then have it jerked away disrespectfully.
The Lone Ranger is enjoyable, chaotic, action-packed and a bit disjointed. It could certainly have been worse, and I don't feel like I wasted either my time or money by watching it.