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'The Lone Ranger' Rides Again

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Tonto, however, doesn’t share this blind allegiance to the white man’s easily corruptible code, a source of frustration for both when they team up to track down a true baddie, Butch Cavendish (played by an unrecognizable, grimy William Fichtner), who grievously offends both the masked man and his faithful sidekick. Cavendish is not only a criminal by Reid’s terms, he’s also symbolic of an evil so foul it can throw the entire natural order out of whack, according to Tonto. We see this not only in random, carnivorous bunnies, but also in a brewing war between white settlers and Comanche Indians, despite previously respected treaties. Trying to avenge his family without resorting to vengeance, Reid finds himself an outlaw for sticking to his beliefs while his beloved legal system suffers more abuse than Tonto’s dead crow, and the Lone Ranger is born. While his superhero counterparts may concern themselves with saving the world, LR just wants to serve justice in a land where the law is increasingly bent for a powerful few — a Lockean nightmare, and perhaps a more terrifying situation than could be concocted by Zod, Kahn, or any other maniacal villain du jour.

Let’s leave the plot at that, because there are some pretty decent twists for the uninitiated, and for those already familiar with previous Lone Rangers, the film hews closely to its origin story.

What makes The Lone Ranger such a damned good time is Verbinski’s rollicking, realistic action sequences. He reportedly built miles of actual train track on location in New Mexico to enact the multiple runaway train scenarios, which somehow never get old. The four quarter horses that play LR’s iconic Silver should all be given top billing and a shot at Best Supporting Actor for their agility and adorable scene chomping. And yes, the grand finale involving the horse, two heroes, two villains, two speeding trains, one damsel in distress, a baffled kid, and a whole lot of dynamite goes down to the William Tell Overture, the theme music of the radio and television series. Whether you enjoy that scene is at least as credible proof of American citizenship as a photo I.D.

Yet amid all the fun (149 minutes of it, to be exact) there’s a slight subversiveness to the plot, which takes a clear-eyed look at the raw deal offered Native Americans, and the lies white people told to placate themselves. The film’s true ending, after a hearty guffaw promising a sequel, shows old Tonto shuffling off, alone, in an ill-fitting Western suit, into the vast expanse of nothing which he used to call his home.

The Lone Ranger

Dir. Gore Verbinski; writ. Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio; feat. Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter (PG-13)

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