movies: The Lone Ranger takes Tonto be­yond side­kick

Gore Verbin­ski’s The Lone Ranger takes Tonto be­yond side­kick, writes Han­nah Dreier

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAYCONTENTS -

TO watch a snippet of The Lone Ranger is to em­pathise with the stoic looks of con­cern its star, Johnny Depp, dead­pans through­out the ac­tion film.

In di­rec­tor Gore Verbin­ski’s Dis­ney re­make of the pop­u­lar 1950s western TV se­ries – Hol­ly­wood’s first at­tempt to mod­ernise The Lone Ranger fran­chise – Depp speaks in bro­ken English, chants prayers and wears feath­ers, face paint and a stuffed crow head­dress.

But he also loses the sub­servience that helped make the orig­i­nal Tonto, played by a Cana­dian Mo­hawk, such a prob­lem­atic side­kick to the masked hero.

The film has Tonto in the role of coach to John Reid, the ide­al­is­tic law school grad­u­ate who finds him­self out of his depth when he re­turns to his home­town and, by the film’s end, be­comes The Lone Ranger.

Verbin­ski frames his film as a buddy pic­ture with a zany Western edge.

‘‘The movie is an ori­gin story. You’ll get a sense about the del­i­cate part­ner­ship that’s ar­ranged be­tween th­ese two guys, and their wildly di­verse sense of jus­tice,’’ he says.

Ar­mie Ham­mer plays the square-jawed ranger op­po­site Depp.

Depp ap­pears to reprise ele­ments of his flam­boy­ant Jack Spar­row char­ac­ter (Verbin­ski also helmed Pi­rates of the

Caribbean films), in­clud­ing what could be the same head scarf, in The Lone Ranger.

Depp is not quite don­ning ‘‘red face’’, as he wears a mask of white and black paint through the film. The heavy eye makeup sets off the whites of his eyes, which he widens to comic ef­fect when con­fronted with hand­cuffs, ri­fles and hurtling trains.

An ap­par­ently white man play­ing Tonto, one of the most fa­mous Amer­i­can In­dian stereo­types of all time, might work.

Then again, trou­ble might be com­ing.

The Lone Ranger opens on July 4.

Johnny Depp as Tonto and Ar­mie Ham­mer as The Lone Ranger in the big-screen re­make of the 1950s TV se­ries.

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