1. It leans so, so, so heavily on symbols from the show.
Like the mask. Oh my god, do they talk about the mask. To death. My death!
2. You would think Silver (he’s not named until the end, but we get it) could just be a horse
Instead, his behavior is endlessly discussed throughout the movie. He is dumb, according to Tonto. He gets drunk in one scene. He appears on a roof in another. If this repetitiveness were in a kids’ movie, I guess I would get it? But children should not see this movie — it is violent as hell!
3. The silver bullet also makes a number of appearances
I had to look up their significance from the original series. According to the internet, the Lone Ranger used them to symbolize the weight of firing a gun. In this gun-happy movie, though, it’s meaningless. In the image above, the Lone Ranger’s nephew, Danny (Bryant Prince) is tossing it to him. Oh, speaking of Danny: there are a lot of moments of him shooting a slingshot — both as play and to try to ward off villains — and one of him holding an actual gun to try to kill the bad guys. Am I the only one still not into seeing young children with guns these days? I hate it.
4. And though it’s not from the show, the damn bird on Johnny Depp’s head? References to it take up approximately half the movie.
Depp explained his inspiration for the bird-on-head to Entertainment Weekly. He ripped it from a painting by Kirby Sattler. “It’s his spirit guide in a way,” said Depp. “It’s dead to others, but it’s not dead to him. It’s very much alive.” I just — what. I will say, however, that of all the beaten-to-death symbolism in the movie, I preferred the bird the most (out of the things I couldn’t stand). In a rant about The Lone Ranger and director Gore Verbinski’s repetition, I could also include images of the white hat and the Texas Ranger badge — and hum the William Tell Overture — but you get it: the movie is patterned in an indulgent, boring way.
5. Speaking of which: “Kemosabe”
Here is Tonto saying it. His mouth is forming the “s” in Kemosabe. I tried to count how many times he said it and lost track at 4,032,195.
6. Poor Tom Wilkinson
Such an amazing actor. Not here! He looked exhausted. Perhaps by having to deliver the movie’s ponderous messages about the railway revolution, Westward Expansion, and capitalism. His role as the finger-wagging (see finger wag above) railroad executive with villainous intentions is poorly drawn and speechy.
7. The Lone Ranger strives for big ideas
But ends up with metaphorical, on-the-nose violence. Here’s the greedy railway company’s board meeting being shot up.
8. There’s also a lot of talk about justice and the law
Which is true to the series. I’m no Lone Ranger scholar, but from what I recall (and have confirmed by doing some reading), part of his code was to use his gun only when absolutely necessary. The movie starts out with Armie Hammer’s Lone Ranger having that philosophy — and then mocks it relentlessly. He’s a wimpy lawyer, after all. The number of times he’s proven to be incorrect for trying to arrest someone rather than murder him is… I can’t remember how many, but it is many! There’s an entire savage v. civilization dialectic established here that, of course, ends up showing that Tonto’s code of vengeance is the right way to go.
9. Despite its violence, somehow there’s never any actual jeopardy
Like, this should be dire, right? Nope. Played for comedy.
10. There is, however, a lot of violence directed at Rebecca, the Lone Ranger’s sister-in-law/love interest
In this image, she has been punched in the face by Wilkinson’s character, stumbles, and then falls out of a train (she’s suspended by her dress getting caught). I assume Ruth Wilson, who plays Rebecca, was cast based on the strength of her work in the British crime series Luther. In Luther, she plays an alluring, truly frightening murderer. Like, so scary. Her character in The Lone Ranger is such a sad step down, and reveals such an unpleasant truth about women’s parts in summer blockbusters.
11. Here she is again with psychotic villain, Butch (William Fichtner)
Oh, and the threat of rape hangs over every scene in which she’s in jeopardy as well. Except the ones when she’s being punched or beaned in the face by a chunk of silver by Tonto (that one is played for laughs).
12. Native Americans are massacred a bunch
It’s definitely supposed to be sad. And obviously, that happened in history. This movie is just so thoughtless that it is fetishistic about these wipeouts.
13. Butch is a cannibal?
In life and in reflections of life, there is violence and there is grossness — and sometimes there is both. The Lone Ranger is PG-13, though, so it can only go so far. Like, the scenes of the Native Americans being killed are pretty bloodless. But in this scene toward the beginning of the movie, Butch shows that not only is he an outlaw, but he is crazy. He tells the dying Dan (James Badge Dale) that he is going to take something from him since Dan had sent him to prison years before. He stabs what seems to be Dan’s gut, from which the camera cuts away. We then see Butch with blood on his face. He ate something from inside Dan? I guess? Later, one of Butch’s gang says he took Dan’s heart out. Dan’s heart must have been low in his body. It’s confusing and nasty. Oh, and though the movie is too shy to show whatever the hell is happening, it does show one of the outlaws puking while watching whatever the hell is happening. Just ugh.
14. Other toilet humor
Besides the vomit and implied cannibalism, there are a few other like-minded instances that I imagine would appeal to 10-year-olds. For instance, Armie Hammer’s hair looks like this because Tonto is dragging the Lone Ranger by his feet with his horse. The horse defecates. The Lone Ranger is then dragged through the poo. I identified.
15. Random weirdness, part 1: A homophobic tinge
If this movie were sharp and entertaining and well-written, I could be on board to find the VERY strange outlaw character who wears a bonnet and likes women’s clothes hilarious. In this context, I did not.
16. Random weirdness, part 2: Silver in a tree
17. Random weirdness, part 3: Helena Bonham Carter’s entire character
It would be fine with me if HBC were in most movies. But as a madam with a leg made of ivory that shoots bullets? No!
18. The movie’s narrative frame
The movie begins in 1933 in San Francisco with a little boy at a fair going into a tent to see displays of the West. There’s a buffalo, there’s a bear, and there’s … a grizzled, elderly Tonto. The sign says “The Noble Savage in His Native Habitat.” The little boy (who is wearing a mask) stares and Tonto comes to life to tell him the story of the Lone Ranger. The movie repeatedly returns to their conversation. It is ridiculous! Also, the aging makeup (CGI?) on Depp is not good. There are no available images of these scenes, so just know that the faces Hammer and Depp are making above? That was my face during those bits.
19. Did I mention? It’s almost 2 1/2 hours.