The Lone Ranger

Year: 2013
Production Co: Bruckheimer Pictures
Studio: Disney
Director: Gore Verbinski
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Writer: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Justin Haythe
Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fitchner, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson

Yet another example of the mountain of press doing a disservice to a perfectly serviceable movie. Even I was guilty of calling this movie a dud before I'd seen it, thanks to the general damning consensus in the media in mid 2013 that it was a monumental turkey. A year on, it will be mentioned in hushed tones as the worst performing blockbuster in years.

So where Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer might not have been quite right about critics 'slitting the throat' of their movie, the media were certainly complicit in the general acceptance of poor quality.

Before a frame had even been shot (and quite aside from the high profile budget squabbles that saw production shut down in early 2012) it was a big call. First, there's nobody with even a passing knowledge of who The Lone Ranger is under 40. Second, while westerns are a beloved genre in America, they're not nearly as popular anywhere else, and spending $260m on one is as close to commercial suicide as you can get.

But it did have the dream team of Depp and director Gore Verbinski, so Disney probably thought they had fair odds by marketing it as being from the people behind Pirates of the Caribbean.

They rolled the dice and lost, and the reason why might be found in the arcane details of audience apathy and blockbuster overload. There certainly wasn't anything wrong with the movie that made it deserve such a reputation (not even the box office – as is so often the case it wasn't anywhere near the bomb you've read, coming close to making its money back).

Very simply, it's the origin story of the titular lawman. Verbinski and Pirates writers Elliott and Rossio give him supernatural origins after lawyer John Reid (Hammer) rides out with his sheriff brother's force to apprehend escaped criminal Butch (Fitchner).

When Butch's gang ambushes and attacks the whole group, John is left for dead. Days later he awakens to find he's been miraculously kept alive by a local native, Tonto (Depp), part spiritual healer, part madman.

The two agree to team up as Reid learns how to fight, dash, swing off trains and shoot as the Batman -like figure of the old West, designed to strike terror into the hearts of felons everywhere.

Subplots about the sister in law Reid's always been in love with, the local madam (Carter) and the idealistic town mayor (Wilkinson) who might as well be wearing a T shirt that reads 'I'm really the villain' flesh the story out around Reid and Tonto, and the iron horse provides all the action, chase scenes and thrills the movie needs as a Bruckheimer production.

Bruckheimer and Verbinski enjoyed just a bit too much leeway and it could have been 30 minutes shorter, but there are a few decent laughs and plenty of action to keep you amused. If no other big epic sci-fi action adventure had existed in 2013, it might have performed better.

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