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: Tom Wilkinson, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner
  • 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

    Our Kind of Traitor

    Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis and Naomie Harris star in this British spy thriller, adapted from the novel by John le Carré (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).

  • Film4

    I Killed My Mother

    French Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan stars in his directorial debut, a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama about the bonds between mother and son.

  • Film4

    Ted and Flash Gordon Double Bill on Film4

    Seth MacFarlanes adult comedy followed by the cult sci-fi adventure that acts as a running-joke throughout it.

  • Film4

    This Is 40 on Film4

    (2012) 124 mins 15 Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann star in writer-director-producer Judd Apatow's relationship comedy-drama, a 'sort of sequel' to his second hit feature, Knocked Up.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Berlin 2016: Hail, Caesar!

    Film4 Site Editor Michael Leader reports on the Berlinale's opening film, written and directed by Joel & Ethan Coen... Since it follows the Coen Brothers' essayistic dive into 1960s Greenwich V

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Channel 4 announces major increase to Film4 funding

    Film4 funding has increased to a record £25m in 2016, with major new deals announced with Fox Searchlight and FP Films. Film4 will be backing new work from Lenny Abrahamson, Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrew H

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • A US airman and Japanese naval captain find themselves stranded together on a desert island in WWII drama Hell In The Pacific at 4.35pm.

  • Not one, not two, but four escaped murderers are on the loose in Posse From Hell at 2.50pm. https://t.co/h8iS9kUD5o

  • RT @SnideRogue: This is utterly brilliant, mind-blowing and hilarious. Gerritwatched. https://t.co/ckFRDCl8ub

  • A maid discovers that a sinister aristocrat has poisoned his wife in atmospheric melodrama Footsteps In The Fog at 1.05pm...

  • RT @GabrielTate1: TV Film of the Day: The chaotic story of exploitation pros Cannon Films: Electric Boogaloo (10.55pm @Film4) https://t.co/…

Share