It is easy to say that two-and-a-half hours is too long to tell Lone’s backstory.
He was a law student in 1868 who believed in justice, not the hanging tree.
The wild west had not been tamed when he hooked up with a weird Comanche, called Tonto, and set off to find the murderous gunslinger Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) and haul him back to jail. It’s not the length of Gore Verbinski’s film so much as the subplots that keep clashing and bashing the audience senseless. Visually, it has its moments and what they do with Silver, the spirit horse, is fantastic in a good way.
However, the film is a product of the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, which means tongue-in-teeth heroics and CGI effects.
Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer play it straight-ish, although Tonto’s one-liners have a stapled effect as if added later to improve the giggle rating.
Depp’s performance is a deliberate contrast to Jack Sparrow. Tonto is as dry as dust, mentally cauterised after surviving a childhood massacre, inscrutable and uncommunicative. He and Lone have a disparate relationship, hardly the stuff of legend that was the TV show.
The movie is a mess. It tries too hard to break new ground, tripping over itself in the process and leaving a chasm of questions.