Updating olden-day heroes is a difficult task. Like Superman, the Lone Ranger’s mythos is rooted in an outmoded American ideal, one where unquestionable good always triumphs over evil, damsels are in constant distress, and putting a small scrap of cloth over your eyes serves as a perfect disguise. But in these more cynical times, is it possible to update such a paragon of righteousness? Eighty years after the hero first ambled into the American imagination, director Gore Verbinski’s mega-budget blockbuster can’t seem to muster any freshness. Here, the Lone Ranger still seems old-fashioned, but all the director really does to alter the character is make him something of a prick. That prick is played with minimal charisma by rising star Armie Hammer (the Winklevoss twins of The Social Network
), who spends most of the movie stumbling around and treating his reluctant partner, Tonto (Johnny Depp, again subbing a weird hat for nuance), like dogshit. The pair is in cahoots to hunt down a murderous bandit (William Fichtner, reliably evil) while a tycoon (Tom Wilkinson) lays the literal tracks for Western expansion. Despite inspired action sequences, Verbinski somehow makes the film simultaneously chaotic and dull. Then there’s the matter of the violence, which is amped up to a discomforting level. Yes, our hero still operates by a firm moral compass, but the world he inhabits is one of almost absurd violence. Say what you will about antiquated values: The new Lone Ranger
could benefit from being a little more old-fashioned—and its titular character could stand to be a lot less of a sniveling prick.