Everything about this film screams excess, from the ludicrous two-and-a-half hour running time to the whopping scale of the action sequences to Johnny Depp's bizarro costume. But this reunion between Depp and his original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy director Verbinski is a solidly made romp that actually has some genuine laughs and thrills. There's certainly never a dull moment.
It's set in late-1860s Texas, where John Reid (Hammer) arrives to visit his brother Dan (Dale), whose wife Rebecca (Wilson) is John's former flame. After an elaborate prison break, John is deputised and joins the posse of rangers hunting down the escapee. When they're ambushed, John is the lone survivor, nursed back to health by quirky outsider Tonto (Depp), a Native American who knows how to get to the bottom of what's going on here. So they go undercover to find the truth, which involves a secret silver mine, construction on the first transcontinental American railway, and tensions between European settlers and the native Comanche community.
The script is a complex riot of details that resolutely refuse to gel into a coherent picture until the screenwriters are good and ready to fill in the gaps. In the mean time, they throw the characters into a series of madcap action set-pieces that are wildly cartoonish in the way everyone just dusts themselves off afterwards and carries on. From train crashes to horseback chases, this is non-stop action. And Verbinski is an expert at staging these massive sequences, so they're a lot of fun to watch, especially when the film is populated with such energetic characters.
It's a checklist of Western movie types: Wilkinson is the gruff railway boss, Fichtner is the villain with a permanent snarl on his face, Wilson is the feisty damsel in distress, Pepper is the gung-ho cavalry officer, and Bonham Carter is the shamelessly scene-stealing brothel madam. Opposite them, Hammer seems like a bit of a dork, although we know he'll emerge heroically. And Depp is genuinely amusing in another of his nutty sidekick turns. All of this adds up to a lot of entertainment over the exhausting running time. But honestly, there's a lot of fat that could have been trimmed. And just a bit of true Western grit would have helped balance the silliness.
Run time: 149 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 3rd July 2013
Box Office USA: $89.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $89.3M
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Production compaines: Silver Bullet Productions (II), Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Blind Wink Productions, Infinitum Nihil, Classic Media
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
Fresh: 67 Rotten: 150
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp as Tonto, Armie Hammer as John Reid / The Lone Ranger, William Fichtner as Butch Cavendish, James Badge Dale as Dan Reid, Tom Wilkinson as Latham Cole, Ruth Wilson as Rebecca Reid, Helena Bonham Carter as Red, Barry Pepper as Captain Jay Fuller, James Frain as Barret, Mason Cook as Will, Matt O'Leary as Skinny, Leon Rippy as Collins, Harry Treadaway as Frank, Damon Herriman as Ray, W. Earl Brown as Stache, Matthew Page as Soldier #3
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