Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in The Lone Ranger. Credit: Peter Mountain

In Theaters: Now

Rating: 2.5 stars/4

Might as well start with the end. There's a rollicking 20-minute sequence on parallel speeding trains, complete with quick-draw gunfire, well-timed kabooms and that classic "William Tell Overture." (You'll know when you hear it.) Until then, however, prepare for a clunky two-hour grind.

The classic TV Western serves as source material: In 1869 Texas, prosecutor John Reid (Armie Hammer) longs to bring his brother's killer to justice. With help from his new friend, the mystical Native American Tonto (Johnny Depp), he's transformed into the noble Lone Ranger. The two play off each other so well, a sequel is probably brewing as you read this. But Depp is his own worst enemy: The gifted actor has done the kooky, costumed character shtick so many times, it's no longer surprising to see him roll his eyes or bury his index finger into the desert sand, then lick it (one of the many juvenile jokes).

Each time they seem to be making progress on the journey, a turgid detour stops the action cold -- a wailing widow here, a childhood flashback there. Tighter storytelling would have turned a decent outing into a great one. Sorry, kemosabe.