The masked ex-Texas Ranger and his Indian friend Tonto first appeared on American radio in 1933, and became beloved by US kids thanks to the kitsch 1950s TV show starring Clayton Moore. More than a half-century later, director Gore Verbinski reteamed with his Pirates Of The Caribbean star Johnny Depp (as Tonto, of course) to return the legendary 19th century do-gooder to the screen.
The story – which takes a rather bum-numbing two and half hours to play out – has an ageing Tonto (now a carnival attraction) in the 1930s telling us the tale of John Reid (Hammer, best known for his role as the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network) and how he came to be the Lone Ranger after the murder of his brother and fellow rangers who were in pursuit of baddie Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). Of course, it turns out Cavendish is part of a bigger conspiracy involving the railroads, and Tonto and John have various adventures as they attempt to save the day.
Unfortunately, as the lack of success of Cowboys And Aliens and Wild Wild West has shown, kids – and grown-ups – aren’t that fond of jokey westerns anymore, especially long and meandering ones. There are some great moments here – including a train chase and every appearance of Helena Bonham Carter’s flame-haired moll Red, who keeps her gun in a very inventive place – but there are also some dull ones, too, that if they had remained on the cutting room floor would have created a much peppier film.
Hammer, meanwhile, is suitably deep-voiced and strong-of chin as the Lone Ranger (and there are some cute gags about the mask) and there is nice support from Tom Wilkinson as the local big wig and Ruth Wilson as the potential love interest. It’s Depp who is surprisingly the real disappointment, effectively playing Jack Sparrow except with a different accent, complete with over the top gestures that get laughs in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies but here just irritates.
While not as awful as some box office reports and reviews would lead you to believe – this was condemned as a flop in the US the week it was released – neither is this the fun and fast Western it could have been. One for cowboy fans only.
Is The Lone Ranger suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
If you like this, why not try: Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, Rango, Tall Tale, Back To The Future Part III, The Adventures Of Huck Finn,