My only previous memory of The Lone Ranger is my dad bouncing me and my brother and sister on his knees and ‘singing’ the William Tell overture. But I quite like westerns, am a big fan of Johnny Depp, and took a shine to Armie Hammer in The Social Network, and in subsequent red carpet appearances where he always seemed delightfully childlike – like an excitable puppy!
So I was rather looking forward to Jerry Bruckheimer’s take on the classic story and, thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.
The format – Depp’s Tonto is an old man – recounting the tale of The Lone Ranger to a small boy in a museum – allows Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski to cut in and out of the story they are telling and, more or less, stick to the action without lengthy dialogue or explanations.
At 2 hours 20 minutes it’s still a long film, and yes, if I’m being critical, would have benefited from a little more editing. But the action sequences are exhilarating, Hammer and Depp play off each other well and William Fichtner’s Butch Cavendish is a villain to both hate and fear.
The film’s 12A certificate positions it firmly as ‘family fun’ and, to me, it delivers. It’s a Disney film through and through, with ‘cartoon’ violence, slapstick humour, no sex (despite scenes in a whorehouse) and no bad language.
The ‘spirit horse’ is a character in his own right – well done to the trainers – Depp’s Tonto has shades of Captain Jack Sparrow and relies on the actor’s gifts for physical comedy, and Hammer makes John Reid’s journey from earnest lawyer to masked outlaw humorous and believable.
A supporting cast of Brits and Native American actors are along for the ride, with Helena Bonham Carter, as ever, getting the pick of the cameos. Ruth Wilson throws herself in to the action and young Bryant Prince is just right side of precocious as her son.
Finally, the supernatural thread running through the film (scary bunnies spoiler alert!) allows for an ending left open for a sequel that early Box Office performances suggests will never come.
There’s a lot of hate for The Lone Ranger – particularly online – but I enjoyed it far more than Star Trek: Into Darkness or Man of Steel, probably because it’s evident that everybody involved with The Lone Ranger is having a whale of a time.
Essentially it’s a bunch of grown men (and Ruth Wilson) playing cowboys and Indians with ‘Pirates’ style humour and slapstick, implausible stunts involving trains and horses and a timeless theme of good versus evil, and you know what? It’s awesome!