It’s “Hi-ho, Silver. Away!” for Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, director and Oscar nominated star of the Pirates Of The Caribbean saga, who reunite for this rootin’ tootin’ reinvention of the masked avenger.
The Lone Ranger began life as a radio series in the early 1930s and captured the imagination of listeners across America. The title character, who rode the plains searching for truth and justice in the company of his Native American sidekick, inspired a spin-off series then galloped from the big to the small screen as a long-running TV series starring Clayton Moore and John Hart.
Verbinski’s lavish romp spares no expense in terms of spectacle, including two outrageous set pieces aboard moving trains that are a thrilling combination of old-fashioned stunt work and pyrotechnics. On the few occasions the film resorts to digital effects, the results are clumsy, like when the eponymous hero and his trusty steed leap onto the locomotive in a manner that defies gravity.
While the title of the film may be The Lone Ranger, this is Depp’s show and once again, he is given carte blanche to conjure a quixotic, comic creation out of the ether. His Tonto lassos all of the best lines and is involved in the most thrilling daredevil action.
A framing device set in 1933 San Francisco confirms his star billing. A Native American mannequin (Depp) magically comes to life in order to recount the story of the Lone Ranger to a wide-eyed boy (Mason Cook).
In hazy flashback, we join handsome lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) in 1869 Texas as he travels on the newly constructed railroad controlled by Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson). Soon after, John is reunited with his brother, Texas Ranger Dan Reid (James Badge Dale), and pretty sister-in-law Rebecca (Ruth Wilson).
When outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) escapes custody, Dan leads the search party and he reluctantly deputises John so they can spend quality time together.
Unfortunately, the chase ends in carnage. Verbinski’s film delivers at a canter.
The Lone Ranger
(12a, 149 mins)