The Lone Ranger Johnny Depp Armie HammerThere was a time when Johnny Depp was a guaranteed money maker for Hollywood studios, making a profit in the majority of early films he appeared in – and not to mention the resounding box office triumph for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. However Depp just isn’t quite the safe bet he used to be, and following a recent string of financial and critical failures such as The Tourist, The Rum Diary and Dark Shadows, if Depp isn’t careful he’s going to find himself on the Hollywood scrap heap – a process which may well be sped up by his latest flick, The Lone Ranger; a film that is proving to be something of an expensive flop for Disney across the Atlantic, with rather substantial losses projected.

However try not to let America’s reaction to this Gore Verbinski picture twist your perspective as, though needlessly dishevelled in places, there remains plenty to be admired about this often enjoyable portrayal of a much celebrated and perennial fictional character. The Lone Ranger himself, John Reid, is played by Armie Hammer, an idealistic law enforcer who returns home to join his brother (James Badge Dale) in a meticulous pursuit of the feared outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). However when his brother is brutally murdered by the targeted villain, Reid is saved by the Comanche Tonto (Depp) as the pair embark on a journey to finally capture Cavendish once and for all, while Reid ensures his brother’s widow (Ruth Wilson) is safe in the meantime, as Reid questions his very own perceptions of what justice really is.

The Lone Ranger struggles from not truly knowing what kind of film it is trying to be. At times it’s a frivolous comedy, while at others it’s a violent, racially charged action movie. The theme of prejudice is rife, but the laughs seem to come in the wrong places. To strike the perfect balance between the genres is no easy task, and is something that Quentin Tarantino, for example, has perfected in recent productions Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds. However Verbinski hasn’t quite made a film funny enough nor poignant enough to justify the other. The one thing this does share with Django, however, is that it’s the same interminable length.

That said, the banter between Hammer and Depp is amusing at times, as Depp excels where only he knows best; in sheer eccentricity. He simply does a fine job of being entirely unpredictable and acting as though every single thing surprises him. However there is a downside to his performance too, as much of the character’s offbeat ways are supposedly due to his Native American roots, almost coming across as mimicking their culture somewhat. If he says something quirky, that makes little sense, there’s a “Oh it’s an Indian thing” sentiment prevailing it. That aside, another stand out performance is Fichtner, who plays Cavendish with a real nasty streak about his demeanour. The sort of man who would cause you to wipe your hand on your trousers after shaking his.

This film has a hugely tedious opening act, and slow-burning narrative, but thankfully a riotously entertaining finale ensures you leave the cinema with a smile on your face, as an immensely fun closing set piece, of a full on escapade involving two trains and lots of dynamite. Problem is, it’s one hell of a slog getting there. The scene is played out wonderfully to the William Tell Overture by Rossini, providing it with a traditional approach, and one that really suits the picturesque, Texan setting.

Though a mess in parts, and frustrating in others (how many lucky breaks can two people get in avoiding death?), The Lone Ranger is not as bad as it has been painted out to be, as a picture that has generally been written off by most. That said, for a breathtaking 250 million dollars, it could – and damn well should – be a lot better.