Rare mis-step for Mr Depp
Following the formula that struck gold for them with Pirates of the Caribbean, the Disney dream team of director Gore Verbinski, writers Ted Elliot and Terry Reid, and professional weirdo Johnny Depp head to the old west in search of forgotten silver with The Lone Ranger.
Returning to his home town on the brand new rail line, office-bound district attorney John Reid stumbles on the attempted breakout of dastardly convict outlaw Butch Cavendish.
While attempting to thwart the escape, Reid winds up chained to ‘‘noble savage’’ Tonto, who turns out to be hunting Cavendish, too.
Together the pair must overcome their distrust of one another and accept masked outlaw status if they are to finally run down their quarry and bring peace and justice to the wild frontier.
The fact the words ‘‘noble savage’’ even appear in this film says a lot.
Depp plays Native American sidekick Tonto with all the grace you’d expect from a white guy redding up to play an awkward stereotype.
Often excruciating – his accent alone is enough to make the least PC among you tut – the magic Depp brought to Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean is sadly missing from this film.
Fortunately, Armie Hammer’s bumbling Dudley Do-Right Lone Ranger is a supremely watchable foil for Depp’s cultural insensitivity.
Added to Verbinski’s eye for lavish sets and even more lavish taste for action – how many steam engines can you destroy in one film? ‘How many have you got?,’ Verbinski replies – The Lone Ranger has more than enough swash, buckle and desert-bound derring-do to keep anyone enthralled.
It is a gorgeous-looking film, too, with panoramic shots of Monument National Park and the eerie Canyon De Chelly harking back to the heyday of 1940s and 50s westerns.
Elliot and Rossio’s knack for twisting, macabre plots really shines.
The guys who brought you zombie pirates go utterly hi-ho silver on the violence and gore here – cue the genuinely terrifying bad guy cutting out the hero’s brother’s heart and eating it – leaving the M rating somewhat misleading.
If only their talents extended to a more sensitive, thoughtful portrayal of Native American culture, then maybe The Lone Ranger would have earned the good guy’s white hat.
Not so noble: Johnny Depp in a rare misfire as Tonto, the Native American sidekick to the Lone Ranger.