It all seemed like such a no-brainer, didn’t it?
Disney snaps up the cinematic rights to the most famous Western hero of them all — one that hasn’t been “rebooted” since 1981’s disastrous Legend Of The Lone Ranger — and turns it over, naturally enough, to Jerry Bruckheimer, who “gets the band back together,” so to speak, by hiring Gore Verbinski to direct and Johnny Depp to star as Tonto. Pirates Of The Caribbean Goes West, anyone?
It goes without saying that budget wouldn’t be a concern here — special effects, production values, sets and costumes — all would be state-of-the-state-of-the-art. Turn it loose on the public over the extended July 4th holiday weekend, sit back, and collect all that cold, hard cash. What could possibly go wrong? This was fool-proof.
Except for the fact that, well, it hasn’t been. The Lone Ranger has landed at the box office with a thud — not as big a thud as it did back in ’81, but a thud nonetheless. The critics seem to despise it, and while audiences have been considerably kinder in their appraisal of the film, they haven’t been large enough for Disney to come anywhere close to recouping their considerable investment in this rapidly-unfurling boondoggle.
All of which is kind of a shame because, as with last year’s panned (but considerably more successful at the box office) Men In Black 3, I honestly can’t figure out where all the hate is coming from. Simply put, The Lone Ranger is a damn fun movie, full of exactly the kind of kick-ass, jaw-dropping CGI, solid “out for justice” storytelling, tight, pacy plotting, and charismatic acting that makes for a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Even if the crowds aren’t proving to be all that big.
Not exactly a “revisionist” take on the legend of John Reid (confidently played by Armie Hammer), a Texas Ranger who, when his life is turned tragically upside-down, dons a mask and adopts a new persona. this flick nevertheless provides a different spin on things by telling the tale from the point of view of an older, wiser, and maybe even somewhat broken-down Tonto (Johnny Depp in, quite honestly, one of the finest performances of his career), who earlier in life threw his lot in with Reid to bring to justice the source of all our hero’s troubles, renegade quasi-militia leader Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner, who makes for a terrific bad guy) and ,more generally, to put a stop to all the various shenanigans this good-for-nothing had a hand in.
If this sounds like your idea of a simple-minded, non-stop thrill ride full of all the excitement, adventure, humor, and yes, even human drama that you want in summertime popcorn fare, rest assured — it is. Good supporting turns from the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson, and Ruth Wilson don’t hurt matters any, either.
Yeah, there are some gaping plot holes large enough for an entire herd of cattle to stampede through, but has that stopped folks from liking, say, World War Z or Man Of Steel, both of which are at least as guilty of counting on you to put your suspension of disbelief completely on hold for a couple of hours? If you can do it for them, surely you can do it for this, right?
Look, I won’t kid you — some small, petty, vengeful little corner of my dark and twisted soul is always happy to see a mega-budget Disney project end up costing the studio untold millions in losses. They’re bastards and they deserve it. But truth be told, if you join the legions of people who have already evidently decided to take a pass on The Lone Ranger, you’re not hurting the evil empire much — they’ve already got Monsters University to more than compensate for any bite this takes from their corporate balance sheet. The only thing you’re really doing by skipping it, then, is robbing yourself of a good time.
It’s summer! Get out there and have some fun — by sitting on your ass in a cool, air-conditioned mega-plex and catching what’s most likely the best action-adventure film of the year so far.