Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12A
  • Adventure, Western
  • 2013
  • 149 mins

The Lone Ranger

Film4

Synopsis

When his sheriff brother is killed by an outlaw, John Reid (Armie Hammer) vows to fight injustice as a masked man, with the help of disgraced Native American warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp).

About

You can imagine The Lone Ranger's inception meeting at Disney. "I want to make a blockbuster based on a pop-culture phenomenon from the 1930s," comes the pitch. "It's a Western… for kids!" Absolute silence. "I'll need a budget of around $250 million, and it's going to be two and a half hours long." Concerned faces all round. Some papers are shuffled. There is some giggling at the back. "Oh, and did I mention I'm Gore Verbinski, director of the unfathomably successful Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise?" A beat. "Where do you want your truck full of money parked, sir?" comes the studio's reply.

Tonally uneven and with a running time likely to leave little ones saddle sore, it's not difficult to see why audiences in the US left this Ranger well alone. In truth, The Lone Ranger is far from the disaster some critics have pegged it as: it's admirable in scale, features two charismatic leads in Depp and Armie Hammer, and climaxes with a joyous train heist sequence set to the rollicking sounds of Hans Zimmer's take on the William Tell Overture. The problem is you have to sit through two hours of dry, barren blockbuster to get your reward.

By now, Depp can pull off quirky characters like this in his sleep, but Pirates scribes Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio give Tonto the bulk of the back-story, if not the emotional range to make it matter. Hammer is far more lively as Reid, giving what could have been a bland leading role some much needed comedic edge. Frequently the pair detour to shoehorn in an unnecessary set-piece; Helena Bonham Carter's brothel madam is surplus to requirements, and her shtick – a gun hidden in a prosthetic leg – is no substitute for character. Like the Pirates sequels, The Lone Ranger is a movie in desperate need of tightening up – at a lean two hours it would feel like less of a slog.

Stick with it, through the countless flashbacks and framing devices and needless side-quests, and The Lone Ranger eventually endears due to its refusal to pander to the pocket-money crowd. It is unmistakeably a Western at heart and requires all the patience the genre demands. If nothing else, it is stunningly shot and stirringly scored. Destined to be remembered as a Disney misfire, don't make the mistake of lumping The Lone Ranger in with John Carter's lot; an odd, uncompromising film it may be, but it still manages to entertain in spite of itself.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Helena Bonham Carter, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Johnny Depp
  • Director: Gore Verbinski
  • Writer: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
  • Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski
  • Photographer: Bojan Bazelli
  • Composer: Hans Zimmer

In a nutshell

Settle in for a bumpy ride: The Lone Ranger is sporadically entertaining, frequently confounding and nothing less than spectacularly ill-conceived.

by Ali Gray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Black Nativity

    Jacob Latimore, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett star in director Kasi Lemmons' seasonal drama.

  • Film4

    August: Osage County

    John Wells directs this star-studded adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by Tracy Letts (Killer Joe, Bug).

  • Film4

    Northern Soul on Film4

    Elliot James Langridge and Josh Whitehouse star in Northern Soul, playing on Film4 for the first time.

  • Film4

    Marvel Triple Bill on Film4

    Film4 brings you a special Marvel triple bill this Christmas, starring Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten

    Film4.com Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with Film4.com editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • RT @Film4: Kirk Douglas turns 100 on Friday. To celebrate, we're showing four of his classic films from 11am. 💯🎂🎥 https://t.co/T0GKffSkNi

  • At 11.10pm, Amanda Seyfried stars in Lovelace, the story of the adult film world's first superstar. https://t.co/dDh3n5UKiq

  • Our late-night highlight at 1am is romantic drama Blue Valentine, starring Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams. https://t.co/1FhU0aMNy4

  • Here is Hugh Grant as Lord Byron in Rowing With The Wind. https://t.co/ftp5XOcDTp

  • And the answer is... Lord Byron! https://t.co/qfEtAIoPIq

Share