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With over-the-top action, offbeat humor, and sweeping Western landscapes, The Lone Ranger portrays the transformation of an earnest, strait-laced lawyer into a symbol of justice, as seen through the eyes of his Native American partner-in-vigilantism. Tonto (Johnny Depp) frames the story of John Reid (Armie Hammer, The Social Network), destined to become the Lone Ranger, within his own tale of betrayal and revenge: as a child, his tribe was killed by two white men who Tonto had unknowingly guided to a treasure trove. These same two men are responsible for the death of Reid’s brother and Reid’s own near-death. Thus Reid’s and Tonto’s fates become entwined as they navigate crashing locomotives, a spirit horse, phony Comanches, real Comanches, a one-legged brothel madam (Helena Bonham Carter), corporate malfeasance, and a nest of scorpions. At its best, The Lone Ranger is a wild romp, not taking itself too seriously and orchestrating preposterous action scenes. But it might have helped if it had taken itself a little more seriously; the tone is all over the place (one moment slapstick, the next aiming for sincere tragedy) and the preposterous action seems more in keeping with invulnerable superheroes than the mortal flesh of cowboys and Indians. The movie could use a little more down-to-earth humanity. Despite this, there’s much fun to be had, and Hammer’s performance hits a nice balance of comedy and emotional engagement.
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