Title: The Lone Ranger
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner and Ruth Wilson
Capturing the true, comedic and sentimental bond between two highly distinct men on opposite sides of the law who are both seeking the same justice can be a difficult task for many filmmakers. The challenge can be increasingly heightened when the movie is based on acclaimed, well-known radio and television series. But Gore Berbinski created a thrilling reboot of the the celebrated series ‘The Lone Ranger’ with his new action-adventure-western, which features a strong dynamic between the two main actors. The modern, dazzlingly visual effects also help to update the story and make it enjoyable not only for families new to the series, but also long-time fan favorites.
‘The Lone Ranger’ chronicles the details of the masked vigilante crusader, John Reid (Armie Hammer), that lead him to become a symbol of justice in the American West, as recounted through the eyes of Comanche warrior, Tonto (Johnny Depp). The Native American tells a young boy resembling his former partner about their time together. John, who takes on the title moniker, returns to his hometown of Colby, Texas, after completing a law degree. John takes on the job as the city’s government prosecutor, and is determined to hold criminals accountable under United States law.
But when John’s brother, Dan (James Badge Dale), is murdered in cold blood by ruthless outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), he realizes that some criminals operate above the law. With the help of Tonto, who has spent years hunting Cavendish, John transforms into a masked vigilante to take on a different form of justice. The two vigilantes set out to stop Cavendish before he can harm anymore innocent people, including his brother’s wife, Rebecca (Ruth Wilson), and his nephew, Dan (James Badge Dale). John and Tonto also rely on the help of club madame Red Harrington (Helena Bonham Carter), who has also been wronged by Cavendish, to deliver the criminal to the Colby town government, including railroad executive Cole (Tom Wilkinson).
Verbinski smartly cast Depp and Hammer in their respective roles in the action adventure western, as the story largely relied on the believability that the two distinctive protagonists could instantly bond, despite their obvious differences. Depp naturally infused Tonto with charismatic wit and charm, and modestly played into the humor that comically saved John and those Cavendish set out to harm. From telling deadpan jokes that John’s horse picked the wrong Reid brother to save in the desert after they were ambushed by Cavendish, to playfully taunting his new partner over his highly moral views, Depp entertainingly made the Native American lighten any serious situation the duo encounter.
However, Tonto’s humorous nature was well-balanced by John’s continuous hesitance to harm anyone, even if they set out to hurt him and the people he cares about, such as Rebecca and Dan. The Lone Ranger was so set in his honorable ways and idealist views, as seen as in his determination to bring Cavendish to justice to the full extent of the law, that he was initially hesitant to take on what he considered to be Tonto’s barbaric ways. Hammer created a well-meaning, socially balanced lawyer in the midst of Tonto’s wild antics and the continued gunfire and violence that he resorted to in an effort to stop Cavendish and end the battle between the Native Americans and the United States government over their claim of land.
Not only did Depp and Hammer’s clever portrayals of their respective characters and natural and humorous bond together infuse ‘The Lone Ranger’ with originality and charm, costume designer Penny Rose visually added to the film’s uniqueness with the clothing she created for the characters. The designer, who previously worked with the actor on all four ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films, emphasized Tonto’s quirkiness and connection with nature with the iconic headpiece with the crow and multiple feathers. Joel Harlow, the film’s makeup department head, added to Rose’s eccentric outfits for Tonto by covering his entire face with white and black war paint for the majority of the movie. In every scene Tonto has with John, the Native American’s face is covered, effectively showing that he isn’t afraid to stick to his heritage while also fighting for what’s morally right.
Rose and Harlow also perfectly balanced Tonto’s original and creative costumes and makeup with John’s conservative suits, which reflect his dedication to his job and following the law. Even while wearing his signature black eye mask and oversized white hat to hid his identity while hunting Cavendish and his followers, his dark three-piece suits still reflect on his dedication to the law and diligently serving justice. The largely contrasting and creative visual differences between Tonto and John’s outfits also cleverly stress the characters’ differences in opinions and approaches to stopping criminals and curtailing crime.
Despite the comedicly unique relationship between Tonto and John, as well as the stunning the make-up and costumes, that Verbinski creatively highlights in the film, screenwriters Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio unfortunately at times infused the script with plot holes and uninspired, cliched dialogue. There are several instances, for example, where John and Tonto are saved from life-threatening situations without any plausible explanation. After Tonto saves John from being shot by Cavendish, for example, the lawman wakes up on top of a tall structure on a steep mountain. But in the next shot is back on the ground without any explanation of how he got down, or why he was on the mountain to begin with.
The modern reboot of the classic ‘The Lone Ranger’ radio series features a natural comedic chemistry between the two main actors, Depp and Hammer, who proved the two distinctive protagonists could instantly bond, despite their obvious differences. From Tonto’s unexpected and jarring jabs at his new partner’s expense, to the lawyer’s continued and well-meaning quest to seek justice for his brother’s death, Depp and Hammer formed a natural bond on screen. But even with the help of the creative, distinct costumes and make-up created for the characters throughout the film, the natural relationship between the two protagonists couldn’t fully repair the at-times underdeveloped screenplay that focused heavily on the visuals and not enough on the story.
Written by: Karen Benardello