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