***/**** Image A Sound A+ Extras C+
starring Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, Helena Bonham Carter
screenplay by Justin Haythe and Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
directed by Gore Verbinski
by Walter Chaw What Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger has going for it, in addition to a genuinely ugly streak of nihilism and a surprisingly high body count, is that it doesn't seek to "darken" its titular boyscout hero so much as offer that his brand of do-gooderism seems naïve and ineffectual in the modern conversation. It's the same tactic taken by Arthur Penn's own picaresque western Little Big Man, the film it most resembles right down to the framing story: an aged narrator relating his sometimes fanciful tale to a modern chronicler, used to amusing effect when the plot gets out of hand, Princess Bride-style. It's like a lot of movies, I guess (including two Simon Wincer westerns, Quigley Down Under and Lightning Jack), which doesn't mean it's derivative so much as it means that it plays like any number of satires of the kind of innocence that made the Lone Ranger character a favourite of impressionable young Americans for generations. It's more the anachronism of The Brady Bunch Movie than the update of Man of Steel, in other words--and the better for it, even if its ultimate message appears to be that the crimson tide has overtaken us, once and for all, and there's no real room left in the world for the idealism represented by a hero with a list of creeds, the first of which is that to have friends one must first be a friend.