There’s a moment about an hour into Gore Verbinski‘s The Lone Ranger where Johnny Depp‘s Tonto turns to the titular masked man and says, “Don’t be stupid.”
If only someone had thought to tell Verbinski that.
The latest update of the story of the Masked Rider of the Plains is, quite literally, the single dumbest big-budget film I’ve ever seen. Poorly written (it makes the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise – by the same screenwriters – look like literature), poorly cast, poorly acted and poorly directed, it’s a train wreck of a film in which the train wrecks are actually the best parts.
You could not have found a worse Lone Ranger than Armie Hammer if you’d opened the phone lines and taken the ninth caller. There’s a reason he’s hardly been in anything you’ve ever seen, because he’s terrible. A federal prosecutor from back east who returns to his Texas hometown (which looks suspiciously like Monument Valley, Utah), Hammer’s John Reid survives an ambush by a gang led by the evil Butch Cavendish (the normally excellent William Fichtner, who is hampered by a hackneyed script) and seeks revenge. There’s a train baron and and an unnecessary plot device bookending the whole two and a half hours of this dreck, but little redeeming in it until the familiar William Tell Overture kicks in with about 30 minutes left.
It’s at that point that the Masked Man goes from effete lawyer to swashbuckling superhero faster than a silver bullet. It’s like the last half-hour belonged in the actual film and the first two hours were just a massive prank – complete with contemporary references out of place in 1869 and a Depp performance straight out of 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2011.
“Never take off the mask,” indeed. Someone might recognize that you had something to do with this.