John Reid (Armie Hammer) is a by-the-book District Attorney. He is traveling on a train that is bringing the brutally dangerous Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) to his hanging. It is going to be in a small town where they are feverishly working to expand the railroad west. Butch’s gang frees him from the train while leaving the rest of the passengers to meet their death as the train runs out of track.
Tonto (Johnny Depp), another prisoner on the train, whose only crime is being a Comanche, helps save John Reid. After the wreck, he walks away, so as not to be caught again.
Dan Reid (James Badge Dale), John’s brother, heads up the Rangers to go find Butch and his gang. The Rangers aren’t as interested in Butch getting a fair trial as John. They would rather see some Wild West justice. Butch’s gang ambushes the Rangers, leaving John for dead.
Tonto happens upon the scene after some time. The spirit horse chooses John to help Tonto on his quest to get his own revenge for what the wedingo, as Tonto refers to them, for massacring his tribe for silver.
After a series of events unfold Reid has no choice but to become an outlaw to bring order and justice to the west.
The Lone Ranger, as I remember it, is a campy, lighthearted show about an outlaw who tries to bring justice to criminals. The Lone Ranger, as brought to life by Gore Verbinski, is none of this. I understand this is just the back story of how and why John Reid became the Lone Ranger. It is just very heavy-handed and, well, boring.
Armie Hammer does ok as Reid/The Lone Ranger. But nothing more. I fell there are any number of better casting choices that could have been made. Someone more rugged, perhaps. Johnny Depp entertains as Tonto. But it is the same character Depp plays so frequently. Put a pirate hat on Tonto, and you have Captain Jack Sparrow. He becomes a caricature of himself, possibly a little offensive, and nothing like the wiser, more mentally stable Tonto from the tv show. And of course, you can’t have Johnny Depp in a movie without Helena Bonham Carter. I think it’s in his contract. She is mostly a disposable character, adding little to the story. The only person who comes close to really filling the role is William Fichtner. He looks and plays the part relatively well.
The story gets too dark. They show too much. I think this is part of the trend lately to have all movies be taken seriously. (See Man of Steel.) It just doesn’t work with a lot of movies. When the Comanche are massacred, not once, but twice, there was no need to seem them relentlessly gunned down. A mere implication would have served as well. And then we are just supposed to move on from that part of our history.
It is a full 2 hours into the 2 1/2 hour dredge before you see the Lone Ranger as you remember him. But, as was commented to me, it was “too little too late.” My recommendation, skip this one. And hope they don’t do another.