The Lone Ranger (12A) ***

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It’s ‘Hi ho Silver away!’for Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, director and Oscar- nominated star of the Pirates Of The Caribbean saga, who reunite for this rootin’ tootin’ reinvention of the masked avenger.

The Lone Ranger began life as a radio series in the early 1930s and captured the imagination of listeners across America. The title character, who rode the plains searching for truth and justice in the company of his Native American sidekick, inspired a spin-off series then galloped from the big to the small screen as a long-running TV series starring Clayton Moore and John Hart.

Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger. Picture:  PA Photo/Disney Enterprises.

Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger. Picture: PA Photo/Disney Enterprises.

Verbinski’s lavish romp spares no expense in terms of spectacle, including two outrageous set pieces aboard moving trains that are a thrilling combination of old-fashioned stunt work and pyrotechnics. On the few occasions the film resorts to digital effects, the results are clumsy, like when the eponymous hero and his trusty steed leap onto the locomotive in a manner that defies gravity.

While the title of the film may be The Lone Ranger, this is Depp’s show and once again, he is given carte blanche to conjure a quixotic, comic creation out of the ether. His Tonto lassos all of the best lines and is involved in the most thrilling daredevil action.

A framing device set in 1933 San Francisco confirms his star billing. A Native American mannequin (Depp) magically comes to life in order to recount the story of the Lone Ranger to a wide-eyed boy (Mason Cook).

In hazy flashback, we join handsome lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) in 1869 Texas as he travels on the newly constructed railroad controlled by Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson). Soon after, John is reunited with his brother, Texas Ranger Dan Reid (James Badge Dale), and pretty sister-in-law Rebecca (Ruth Wilson).

When outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) escapes custody, Dan leads the search party and reluctantly deputises John so they can spend quality time together.

Unfortunately, the chase ends in carnage and John wakes from a bullet wound to meet Tonto (Depp), a quixotic Commanche Native American, who also has good reason to want Cavendish dead.

The Commanche encourages John to find the hero within by donning a mask and together they hunt down the outlaw.

The Lone Ranger is an entertaining action adventure, distinguished by Depp’s theatrics and Bojan Bazelli’s stunning cinematography. The west has seldom looked so splendidly wild and rugged.

Unquestionably, the 149-minute running time will leave audiences feeling saddle-sore and the film noticeably drags its spurs in the middle section. However, when it comes to the action, Verbinski’s film delivers at a canter.

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