With a reported $250 million production budget (nobody knows how much extra was spent on promotion) spent on an adaptation of a cowboys and Indians TV show that went off the air in 1957, The Lone Ranger makes the idea of basing a movie on a Pirate themed theme-park ride look like a stroke of genius. Even with the billion dollar franchise making team of star Johnny Deep, director Gore Verbinksi, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio behind it, The Lone Ranger was quite a risk. Unfortunately, it was a risk that hasn't paid off, having made less than $90 million in the States to date, and the U.S. critics have completely torn it a new one. However, we are happy to report, that it's not nearly as bad as you've been lead to believe.
Lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) returs to his old west home town, and we're introduced to the woman he loves, Rebecca Reid (Ruth Wilson), and the man she's married to, John's town sheriff brother Dan (James Badge Dale). Local rich man Cole (Tom Wilkinson) has paved the way for the town to be connected by railway, with the first train bringing with it very bad man Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), as well as troublesome mystical Indian Tonto (Johnny Depp). But one daring escape later, followed by a pursuit into the nearby mountains, and all of the local law-men have been killed, and John uses the cloak of his supposed death, and his new partner Tonto, to don a mask and become The Lone Ranger, marking his brother's killers for revenge.
What should've been a very stream-lined story somehow bloats itself out to two and a half hours, and while there is a nice amount of in-camera action and not an overabundance of CGI, it's still difficult to see where that huge budget was spent, as there are really only two action set-pieces to speak of, and they both take place on a train at the top and tail of the movie.
Despite this, the movie never fails to entertain; Hammer is great as the titular hero, equal parts dashing and dorky, but knowing never to step on Depp's toes, knowing that this is just another excuse for Johnny to get his weird on. In parts The Lone Ranger is very funny, in parts quite romantic, in parts kinda scary (and the most violent "family movie" since Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom"). When the action does come, it's fantastically choreographed while still being quite grounded. Plus there's Silver, a hilarious, completely weird scene-stealing horse.
In spite of all its faults, The Lone Ranger still didn't forget the most important thing: to be fun.