Director Gore Verbinski is best known for the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films (although his best film is actually 2011's animated Western Rango). The Pirates films are marked by their punishing length (the first one is the shortest at 143-minutes), some imaginative action scenes, convoluted storytelling, and Johnny Depp's mugging, which seemed fresh in the first Pirates movie but has since grown stale. All of these elements are present in the latest Verbinski/Depp collaboration, The Lone Ranger.
Based on the old radio and TV show, The Lone Ranger tells the story of a lawyer (Armie Hammer) who becomes a masked avenger after his lawman brother is killed by a ruthless outlaw (the dependably creepy William Fichtner). The basic plot elements could make for a fun, rousing adventure, similar to how Raiders of the Lost Ark repackaged elements of old serials and turned them into action blockbuster art.
There are moments when The Lone Ranger gets it right. The action centerpieces in the first and final thirty minutes are inventive, exciting, and well-staged. Unfortunately, there's a lot of aimlessness in between the two big action scenes. It's almost as if the screenwriters knew how they wanted the film to start and knew how they wanted it to end, but weren't sure how to get there. There's also an unnecessary frame story (and with the film's 149-minute runtime, it's really unnecessary).
Ultimately, The Lone Ranger does just enough right to frustrate you by giving you glimpses of the movie that might have been.