The Money Train; The Lone Ranger Review

Release Date: July 3rd, 2013

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Production Budget: $250,000,000

Director: Gore Verbrinski

Writers: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio

Source Material: The Lone Ranger (Radio/ TV Series, Film Serials)

Running Time: 149 minutes

Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, Ruth Wilson, Tom Wilkinson, James Badge Dale, and Helena Bonham Carter

Plot: An American Indian spirit warrior, Tonto (Depp), recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice. The two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

Bias: I have none. The world premiere has technically yet to be held until June 22nd in Disneyland California, so this is the first time I have to form my opinion on a movie without previous word. I am going in blind without any expectations. 

Review: I had my first wanding today. This movie does not open for another two weeks and as a result they had tight security confiscating all cell phones and searching people to make sure no one would record a bootlegged copy of the film. There is a lot of money riding on this film (more than World War Z) and riding on its hopeful success. If I were an investor in Disney though, I would sell off.

There are two train derailments in this movie. The first of which opens the film had me wondering during an onslaught of CGI why someone would greenlight a 250 million dollar western when the genre has limited worldwide appeal and its highest grossing entry (Dances With Wolves) only made 184 million domestically. Does this film need so much money thrown at it? While ‘World War Z’ made a convincing argument with its scope this film does not come close. The top 3 grossing westerns were made for 160 million total 100 of which came from ‘Django Unchained’. I don’t see the money here, or the level of quality that should come with it, just the excess.

That high figure shouldn’t matter if the film is great, since that same gamble was made on Pirates of the Caribbean, which became a license for printing money. This film however is… fine. A bit boring, some great action sequences but overall fine. It is well staged, well shot and overlong. I don’t see how this film no matter how well marketed will make back its budget.

Depp, Hammer, Bruckheimer and Disney are expecting a blockbuster…

The biggest problem with this movie is its main story is boring and cliche. The railroad controls the west and the law is corrupt and blah blah blah you can see the plot points coming by a mile a way and it only makes you want to look at your phone, which nobody could do because they were confiscated and I wasn’t wearing my wrist watch.

The problem with certain high profile films like these is that are designed as tentpoles is that nobody seems to bat an eyelash at the cost of these because those working on it have had such past success. It will only be after this film tops out around 130 million or so (my guess), a ‘Last Airbender'(timeslot), Rango (cast and crew) like figure that someone will say well this might’ve been a bit of a mistake. I can be proven wrong however.

Johnny Depp tries to bring the same colour of character he brought to Jack Sparrow but plays like a lower grade knockoff, which is an accurate description for the entire movie; something that tries to capture the same winning formula as Pirates of the Caribbean but falls short. Armie Hammer is his usual charming but slightly misguided fool that he was in Mirror, Mirror (and if you would indulge; The Social Network) who doubles as the straight man. He isn’t particularly bad nor is he all that inspiring in the role or really much of anything, just okay I guess. I found that having both lead characters playing goofy seems to work, but it wasn’t as interesting a dynamic when you have two characters with little contrast between each other carry on screen for so long.

I don’t want to write off this film completely so I will give it some positive points. The highlight of the film is of course the climactic dual train chase/fight on horseback as seen briefly in the previews this 15 minutes sequence is the best part of the movie and makes you wish the whole film was as fun. I understand the slow pacing for the film because it attempts to set up some semblance of dramatic stakes before changing them for a more runaway blockbutser vibe, but it doesn’t jive together and to me it’s an expensive train that instead of derailing or even taking off just fails to pick up steam in the first place.

I’d give it a “C”.


Cinematic Continuum Scale:

-3 -2 -1  0 +1 +2 +3


  • This is Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter’s first movie together… that wasn’t directed by Tim Burton.
  • The Green Hornet is a spinoff of the lone ranger a much less expensive film also starring Tom Wilkinson.. just checking now that film cost 120 million. Which is sadly still half the budget yet ridiculously expensive, so what the hell?
  • Armie Hammer is 6’5 and 220lbs but there is not two of him.

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