The Lone Ranger

Lone Ranger

The prospect of Johnny Depp starring in a movie directed by Gore Verbinski — something epic and adventurous like the three “Pirates of the Caribbean” films they made together, not to mention a Western like their animated “Rango” — sounds promising enough. But “The Lone Ranger,” which stars Depp as an insane, exhaustingly quirky (and vaguely offensive) Tonto and vanilla-flavored sugar cookie Armie Hammer as the masked do-gooder, falls victim to a multitude of other problems.

One of them: Wild West lawyer-turned-avenger John Reid, a wet blanket and a doofus, doesn’t embrace his role as Lone Ranger until the film’s TWO HOUR mark. Then, at last, the William Tell Overture kicks in and we’re treated to an exhilarating adventure that runs for a splendid 20 minutes before the movie ends and the credits roll. There’s a brief but fun train-bound sequence near the beginning, too. Everything in between is a meandering mess of uneven tones (whimsical, tragic, supernatural) in the service of a convoluted plot that has John Reid pursuing a vicious outlaw (William Fichtner) in 1869 Texas, Tonto hunting for a demon called a wendigo, and a railroad baron (Tom Wilkinson) seeking to finish the transcontinental line. The anachronistic dialogue is jokey without being particularly funny, the pace languid. And it’s all weighed down further by a drippy title character who wants to be anything but the title character.

D+ (2 hrs., 29 min.; PG-13, abundant shooting, fistfights, and other violence, some of it fairly graphic.)