Johnny Depp directed a film once.It was called The Brave and co-starred Marlon Brando along with Depp who played an impoverished American Indian, who agrees to make a snuff movie in exchange for money which will help his family.The film was never theatrically released but showed Mr. Depps commitment and love for the native American.He also claims some Cherokee roots on his great-grandmother side and its not difficult to imagine him gleefully take up the offer to play Tonto for his long-term Pirates franchise collaborator Gore Verbinksi. What Mr Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer were thinking is more intriguing though. As they plod along with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise they are in search of a new one for Disney.The Masked Man is the property they dug up, one that few cares about, which of course they planned to change.
Since they have made big films which have mountains of money they could get the green light and 250 million USD for this project.What we have is a full-fledged assault of special effects and elaborate set pieces that are only faintly amusing and that too fleetingly.I admit to being a Depp fan, he has built up a solid repertoire of off beat and sometimes downright quirky roles and his work with Tim Burton has always been a refreshing ride of wild creativity.Speaking of creativity this very director was positively brilliant in his last outing with Rango which was a near perfect animated film.
Here Armie Hammer plays John Reid, a very idealistic county prosecutor who in the outlandish but breathtaking opening sequence on a train, gets caught up in a jailbreak by gunslinger Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) and rogue Comanche Indian Tonto (Johnny Depp) while returning from the city. Tonto and Reid team up to hunt down Butch and his gang through the desert with Tonto having his own agenda of avenging the wrongs done to his tribe.
The film uses a 1933 carnival exhibition in San Francisco as its framing device, where a young Lone Ranger fan encounters an ancient, nearly 100-year-old Tonto, now reduced to a sideshow freak.As Tonto recounts his tale to the boy, the film cuts back to his narration every 30 minutes or so, which does not help its comic action adventure tone or pacing at all.That Tonto is quite an eccentric should be a good thing and excuse for some really charming comedy but his antics with the dead bird on his head only make this movie more preposterous.At times, The Lone Ranger wants to be a tongue in cheek spoof on of the old TV series but muddies the waters with very macabre scenes (testing the limits of its PG13 rating) where Butch carves out and eats the heart of a victim or when Indians are massacred by U.S. soldiers brutally with a machine gun.
Arnie Hammer has the right look and charisma to play The Lone Ranger but by the time he makes up his mind to become the title character our interest in the film has been long dead .When he arrives at the “Hi -yo Silver” moment near the end of the film its a bit too late.Mr Depps performance as a very sober and mellow version of captain Jack Sparrow with an oversized burnt bird for headgear, which he keeps trying to feed seeds he digs up, is a bundle of contradictions.Surely the incoherence of his character owes more to the screenplay than to his acting skills.
Sitting through this movie you can quietly contemplate all the existential questions that may be haunting you or you can down a few thousand calories worth of popcorn and soda but all that glucose will not set your pulse racing.This film proves how big paychecks are creating films that force very talented people to make films like this which reduce movie watching to a chore.Some movie messes are tasty like chop suey but this one is concocted from very expensive but stale ingredients.I am betting grossing 500 million USD which this film needs to just break even will be a very uphill task.