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Never Take Off the Mask

The Lone Ranger, his trusty steed Silver and loyal sidekick Tonto are staples of 1950’s TV and beloved examples of iconic Americana.

Though no one was asking for The Lone Ranger to be remade, director Gore Verbinski has taken a risk on a rising star, Armie Hammer, and a household name, Johnny Depp, to bring The Lone Ranger to life for a new generation.

So, is The Lone Ranger a successful reboot, or does it not do justice to the original?  Read on to find out!

Armie Hammer portrays John Reid, the man who becomes The Lone Ranger.  Before donning his mask, Reid is the newly appointed District Attorney of the area where he grew up in.  Returning to the West from law school, Reid naively believes that the Two Treatises of Government is the only law the West needs.  Reid’s brother, on the other hand, is a strong and burly Texas Ranger who relies on his wits and instincts for the rule of law.

This is a wonderful and fresh take on The Lone Ranger.  Reid is a fish out of water who must learn that the law is nothing unless there is someone strong enough to enforce it.

Comanche warrior Tonto is portrayed by Johnny Depp, who brings his usual flair and exceptionally entertaining personality to the role.  Haunted by his past, and more than slightly unhinged, Tonto is part guardian angel, part Jedi-master for The Lone Ranger.

Actor William Fichtner portrays terrifying gang leader Butch Cavendish.  Fichtner is an actor you have seen many, many times in movies but never remembered his name.  A superb actor, Fichtner brings Cavendish to life in a violent way.

Speaking of violence, in terms of Westerns, The Lone Ranger is more akin to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly than Gunsmoke.  There is some very real and graphic violence in the film.  None of the violence feels too gratuitous, but the film definitely earns its PG-13 rating.

The story is told by an elderly Tonto to a child dressed like The Lone Ranger at a fair.  Throughout the film, the viewer returns to Tonto telling the story to the incredulous and captivated child.

Unfortunately, the film suffers because of this storytelling device.  When all is said and done, it adds little to nothing to the movie and actually detracts from the pacing due to the odd choices of where the “flashbacks” end and the viewer returns to Tonto and the child.

Another place where The Lone Ranger falters is in the climactic final battle between The Lone Ranger and the evil forces controlled by the railroad.  Here, Verbinski pays a nod to the Lone Ranger TV series by using the “William Tell Overture” as music for this scene.  Instead of framing the scene with appropriate music, the use of William Tell Overture makes what should be a tense scene feel wacky.

This gets to the heart of the problem with The Lone Ranger.  The film feels uneven.  On the one hand, you have the humor and spectacle of John Reid learning to be The Lone Ranger, Tonto casually navigating perilous situations, and a possibly deranged horse.  Compare that to a posse being shot down, Native Americans being massacred, and the multiple shootings.

So, should you take your kids to see The Lone Ranger?  As always, that decision is up to you, parents.  However, here are some things to consider.

The film is rated PG-13.

There is light sexuality in the film.  The Lone Ranger and Tonto chase down a lead to a brothel.  The ladies at the brothel all wear long dresses but show off a lot of cleavage.

There is mild to strong violence in the film.  A gang member is described as a cannibal.  Although the film never shows him eating anything, several acts of cannibalism are talked about and implied.  Several people are murdered by being shot and stabbed to death.  A man’s heart is cut out, though, the camera does not show it.

There are mild profanities in the film, but nothing too strong.

The strengths of The Lone Ranger don’t quite make up for its weaknesses, but after all is said and done, this is an entertaining and good remake.

The Lone Ranger scores a 3.5/5.

See you next time, Kemo Sabe!