Releasing On - 06-12-2016
Some films are created awful, some achieve awfulness, and some have awfulness thrust upon them. The Lone Ranger, the new Johnny Depp blockbuster directed by Gore Verbinski, falls cleanly into the third category: it has arrived from America a pre-ordained flop, trailing critical roastings and a disastrous opening weekend behind it. The film cost $250 million to make and is expected to make a $150 million loss: hi ho silver away, indeed.
Commissioning a $250 million western based on a radio programme whose original fans will now be in their 80s is a feat of sheer pole-vaulting lunacy, but terrible business decisions do not necessarily lead to terrible film-making, and The Lone Ranger, while not without some serious problems, is a strange and fascinating and often thrilling movie artefact.
One possible explanation for its lousy reception in the US: it may be the most anti-American blockbuster ever made. The dazzlingly beautiful landscapes in the film are unmistakably those of John Ford, but the nation of thieves and scumbags who creep across them are pure Sergio Leone.
Armie Hammer, who played both Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, co-stars as John Reid, who arrives in Colby, Texas, with a smart suit and a copy of John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government under his arm. Reid is a firm believer in the rule of law – until, that is, the outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) kills someone dear to him. (In one of the film’s many insane tonal wobbles, Butch cuts out and eats his victim’s heart.)
Left for dead in the desert, Reid is rescued by Tonto (Johnny Depp), a Comanche loner with a dead crow on his head, which he occasionally tries to feed crumbs. In the long list of Johnny Depp acting tics, this is one of the more irritating yet to surface, and even the film’s other characters acknowledge it.