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Depp’s Tonto is only selling point for ‘Lone Ranger’

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Perhaps that was the thinking among the assembled creatives who realized The Lone Ranger wouldn’t be any good. An unadvisable mix of comedic asides and gritty, racially tinged violence, this year’s big Fourth of July movie is, put rather politely, a dud.

Even though it’s a PG-13 flick, you get the sense that this is intended for a broader audience. But within the first 30 minutes, there are probably a dozen killings. It’s mostly gun shots, and many of those killed are on the right side of the law. Then during the obvious climax (the last 30 minutes), way more bullets are flying around but nobody even gets dinged. But this was the Wild West and revenge is a big part of the story, so ultimately, that’s fine.

However, it sure seems like director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) realized it was getting a little heavy, so he figured, “We’ll just have Johnny roll his eyes here, here, and here and get us a laugh.” Johnny Depp plays Tonto, who is absurdly concocted, no matter what he says in the press about reverence for Native American culture. His Tonto looks authentic, but it’s just another comic relief role who comes up bigger and smarter in the exact right moment.

He is at least more entertaining than the ranger himself (Armie Hammer). A striking guy, no question, but Hammer doesn’t have the chops to carry a movie, certainly not one that’s a goddamn half-hour too long. To help fill that time, or maybe because of it, Verbinski also trots out too many villains, all of whom require comeuppance.

In the end, this is what you would expect out of Depp and Verbinski when handed a bunch of Jerry Bruckheimer’s money. It’s excessive, pointless, unfocused, fleetingly fun and depressingly empty.