The Lone Ranger (2013)

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At a sideshow in a San Francisco fair in 1933, a boy, Will, who idolizes a legend known as the Lone Ranger, encounters Tonto, an elderly Comanche Native American, who proceeds to recount his experiences with that Old West adventurer.

In 1869 Colby, Texas, lawyer John Reid returns home via the uncompleted Transcontinental Railroad, managed by railroad tycoon Latham Cole. Unknown to Reid, the train is also carrying Tonto and outlaw Butch Cavendish, who is being transported for his hanging after being captured by Dan Reid, John’s Texas Ranger brother. Cavendish’s gang rescues Butch and derails the train. Tonto is subsequently jailed. Dan deputizes John as a Texas Ranger, and with six others they go after the Cavendish gang.

Cavendish’s men ambush and kill their pursuers in a canyon and Cavendish cuts out and eats Dan’s heart. Tonto, who has escaped from jail, comes across the dead men and buries them. However, a white spirit horse awakens John as a “spirit walker,” and Tonto explains John cannot be killed in battle. Tonto also tells him Collins, one of the Rangers, betrayed Dan and is working with Cavendish, whom Tonto believes is a “wendigo.” As John is thought to be dead, he wears a mask to protect his identity from enemies. Tonto gives John a silver bullet made from the fallen Rangers’ badges and tells him to use it on Cavendish.

At a brothel Collins recently visited, Red Harrington informs them about Dan and Collins’ fight over a cursed silver rock. Meanwhile, Cavendish’s men, disguised as Comanches, raid frontier settlements. John and Tonto arrive after raiders abduct Dan’s widow and son, Rebecca and Danny. Regretting his earlier actions, Collins attempts to help Rebecca and Danny escape but is shot dead by Cole, who rescues them. Claiming the raiders are hostile Comanches, Cole announces the continued construction of the railroad and dispatches United States Cavalry Captain Jay Fuller to exterminate the Comanche.

A Comanche tribe captures John and Tonto soon after the pair finds railroad tracks in Indian territory. The tribe leader tells John of Tonto’s past: As a boy, Tonto had rescued Cavendish and another man from near-death and showed them the location of a silver mine, in exchange for a pocket watch. The men murdered the tribe to keep the mine a secret, leaving Tonto with great guilt.

Tonto and John escape as the cavalry attack the Comanche. At the silver mine, they capture Cavendish. Tonto demands that John use the silver bullet to kill Cavendish, but John refuses. Tonto attempts to kill Cavendish, but John knocks him unconscious and brings in Cavendish alive. Upon returning Cavendish to Cole and Fuller’s custody, Cole is revealed to be Cavendish’s partner. Fearing that if his actions are publicly revealed he’ll be charged as a war criminal, Fuller sides with Cole. Rebecca is held hostage, and John is taken back to the silver mine to be executed. However, Tonto rescues him and the two flee as the Comanche attack and are massacred by the cavalry. Realizing that Cole is too powerful to be taken down lawfully, John dons the mask again.

At the site of the union of the Transcontinental Railroad with two trains, Cole reveals his true plan: to take complete control of the railroad company and use the mined silver to gain more power. John and Tonto steal nitroglycerin and use it to destroy a railroad bridge. With Red’s help, Tonto steals the train with the silver and speeds it in reverse, and Cole, Cavendish, and Fuller pursue him in the second train on which Rebecca and Dan Jr. are being held captive. Riding Silver, John pursues both trains. After a furious chase and fights on both trains, both Cavendish and Fuller are killed, Rebecca and Dan Jr. are rescued and Cole dies buried beneath the silver ore after the train plunges off the severed bridge and into the river below.

The town and railroad enterprise recognize John (whose identity is still unknown to them) as a hero and offer him a law-enforcement position. John declines and accepts his new life as the Lone Ranger, and he and Tonto ride off. Back in 1933, Will questions the truth of the tale. Tonto gives him a silver bullet and tells him to decide for himself.

REVIEW:

A few years ago, I reviewed The Lone Rangera film that was a continuation of the TV series. Today, we see how well that character has withstood the test of time with the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger. Let’s not beat around the bush. This film had its fair share of setback before it even made it into production and then it got blasted by fans and critics, but was their vitriol warranted?

What is this about?

In this reboot of the 1950s television series, Native American warrior Tonto rescues wounded lawman John Reid and restores him to health, thus creating an often-contentious but effective partnership as they attempt to rid the Old West of corruption.

What did I like?

Origin. Unlike superhero films where the origin takes forever to be told, this film manages to basically inform us in the span of maybe 5-10 minutes. Granted, if there was a sequel, I’m sure Armie Hammer would be more comfortable in his role as the masked man, but for what its worth, he does a really good job with filling his predecessors shoes. Being only vaguely familiar with the classic TV series, I can’t tell you if any liberties were taken, but I can say that the spirit walker angle they took was a nice touch.

Villains. The villains are not only believable, but the one played by William Fichtner is almost scary, especially with the whole heart eating angle. On the one hand we have the corporate face of the railroad, who we don’t find out it a villain until a little bit later in the film. You know the type, he has everyone fooled until the truth is brought to light. Then, we have Fichtner’s character who is the most dirty, vile and evil being in the film. He has the look of an old west villain and his mannerisms fit perfectly into the setting. As far as his actions go, well, he eats hearts. Need I say more?

Catch that train! The train sequence that serves as this film’s climax is the best scene in the film. With the nonstop action, gunplay, explosion, and stunts, this scene manages to bring together. I was taken back to those old train robbery westerns watching this scene and wondered why most of the film wasn’t more of this instead of trying to tell some dramatic story.

What didn’t I like?

Length. It is well documented for disdain for lengthy films, especially when they make you feel like they are long. This is one of those that was pretty long and I’m not really sure why. The middle section really could have been taken out, if you ask me. The reason they decided to bring in a rather lengthy section that tore down Tonto and, as is commonplace in today’s films, left our hero doubting himself. Outside of the Tonto origin, there was really no reason for this and probably about another 30-45 minutes.

Depp. I have two complaints about Johnny Depp. First, the guy is very talented. We all can agree on that, but 1/16 Cherokee or whatever percentage of Native American he is doesn’t make up for the fact that Tonto should have been played by a Native American actor.  Also, what was up with the white face paint? Realizing that Depp is the name is fine, but come on, they could have cast him as another character and used an actual Native American to play Tonto. Speaking of him playing other roles, perhaps he should have been cast as the Lone Ranger because he was more the star than Armie Hammer was. It was so much that it made you wonder why this wasn’t just called Tonto.

Tone. This film has issues with the tone it wants to keep. In one scene there is a shootout that results in a guy eating a heart and then a little later we have a horse in a tree. It leaves the audience confused as to what they’re watching. Personally, I think the lighter tone works as the Lone Ranger is not a dark character, but the violent stuff works for the western aspect of this character. I just with the filmmakers would have taken the time to find a better balance with the tone, rather than making random shifts.

When you hear Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”, then you pretty much can be assured that there is a masked man coming to save the day, you’re watching “The Band Concert” with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, or you’re attending a band/orchestra concert. Thankfully, they left that theme in here, even it did go on a bit long at the end. That is what plagues The Lone Ranger more than anything. It takes one step forward and two steps back. I’m still trying to figure out what I think about old Tonto at the sideshow talking to this random kid. Final verdict on this film though is that it tries valiantly, but it just isn’t good enough. Having said that, it is nowhere near as bad as everyone would have you believe. With all its issues, this film is still a fun ride, and you should at least give it a shot.

3  1/4 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “The Lone Ranger (2013)”

  1. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

  2. […] and give them a tan. Of course, given some of the casting choices these days such as Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger or just about anyone that wasn’t a bad guy in that abhorrent The Last Airbender, it is […]

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