"The Lone Ranger" rides again, this time on the big screen, starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp as Tonto. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly magazine filed the following review.
When you go in to see "The Lone Ranger" you may already know that it's two-and-a-half hours long, and that it's been made by the same maestros of noisy bombastic overkill who brought us the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. Yet even though I knew all that, the fact that Johnny Depp is playing Tonto, the Lone Ranger's poker-faced Comanche warrior/sidekick, was enough to give me a tingle of anticipation as the opening credits rolled.
Depp wears ghostly-white dry, cracked mud all over his face, and atop his hat is a dead raven, which he keeps feeding birdseed. Either Tonto is clued in to the spirit world, or nuts, or maybe a bit of both. Clearly, he's "the Jack Sparrow character", but Depp makes Tonto very different than Jack. He's stern and controlled, a figure off a wooden nickel come to life. With his me-speakum-wisdom-to-the-white-man epigrams, he may be a racially tinged caricature of a Native American noble savage, but he’s also a sly joke, a pop-culture artifact that Depp twists around and makes kind of cool. If the script had given Depp some great lines, he alone might have made the movie worth seeing. But "The Lone Ranger" gives Depp the dialogue equivalent of birdseed. You appreciate his stoic-joker presence, but the joke doesn't detonate.
The movie, of course, teams Tonto with the Lone Ranger, who’s really John Reid, a mild-mannered district attorney played by Armie Hammer, who has a smiling softness about him that makes the character a little too vague and wussy.
Director Gore Verbinski orchestrates a hectic and surprisingly violent conspiracy plot, and he fills the screen with scowling, disreputable types who have no layers at all. Basically, "The Lone Ranger" is a two-hour set-up to a half-hour action climax. At the end, when a train is speeding along, and the Lone Ranger and Tonto are crawling all over it like a jungle gym, and The William Tell Overture is finally budda-bump budda-bumping away, your heart races a little bit, and you realize: This is why I wanted to see this movie!
Of course, the action climax just goes on and on, making "The Lone Ranger" the sort of movie that delivers too much too late, and still manages to make it feel like too little.