Long ‘Lone Ranger’ mixes comedy and violence to dizzying effect

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in ‘The Lone Ranger.’ Rated PG-13, 149 min. Walt Disney Studios, 2013.

“The Lone Ranger” misses its mark in many ways, from the possibly-offensive casting of maybe-part-native-American Johnny Depp as Tonto, to the barely-there Armie Hammer in the under-written title role, and director Gore Verbinski’s habit of taking every action sequence to its illogical extreme.

Stretched to a shockingly violent and patience-testing two and a half hours, this “Lone Ranger” focuses heavily on Tonto’s backstory, with the origin of the Lone Ranger as a kind of side-show. Depp owns the film, but delivers a familiar performance, like he is re-enacting “Pirates of the Caribbean” as a western.

Helena Bonham Carter’s character – a madam with a fake leg concealing a shotgun – is introduced late in the film and has no relevance to anything else. This character and this sidetrack are emblematic of a bloated, disorganized movie that bobs and weaves madly instead of getting from point A to point B. The maniacally-edited climax aboard two runaway trains is dizzying, and includes goofball comedy that undercuts any real sense of danger. By the time the “William Tell Overture” kicks in, it seems to be mocking the entire franchise, which probably was not the intention.

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