...or was it the way of movies. The way of westerns. The way of American action stories. How the briefest of training montages can set you up to defeat a despot and save a president. Also, as long as you're the good guy, kill whoever looks like one of the bad guys.
Five-year-old me certainly didn't care that Amy Stryker gets forgotten in the third act of the movie. He didn't care that Tonto forgets how to speak for that same act. He just saw western action, explosions, and a nobody turning into a superhero... Mostly.
He also didn't notice the really bad framing and editing on the stagecoach ride early on--which I only just noticed. (They make a point of the seat on the left side of the screen being the one facing forward, but for several cuts in a row, the stagecoach is traveling to the left when seen from outside, which doesn't match the interior... A few shots later, when the sunglasses guy gets to talking, the interior is reversed making the seat on the right the one facing forward. Then, during the bandit attack, the interior switches back, left side facing forward. And back again. How about some visual consistency, people?)
So then, I got distracted by some research into original Lone Ranger stuff, because I've got the movie on one more time but don't have much else to say. Simply put, it was more of the same stuff so many action movies would teach me in the early 80s--a lone hero can beat all odds if he just puts in the tiniest bit of effort and is on the side of right (aka, he's American).
(Also, despite the politics being out of place in this film, I almost wish the screenwriter has embraced the politics more. They keep trying to be political, and then it just drifts back to everything else.)
Anyway, I was curious if Amy Striker was a character out of old Lone Ranger serials or the radio show. Apparently, the Striker name came from one of the primary writers on the radio show--Fran Striker. Which means Amy's presence here is not some shoutout to the original story. Instead, her role in taking up her uncle's newspaper instead of continuing on her trip to San Francisco, is a lost thread; she could have taken up like him in printing stories about Cavendish, but instead, she gets left behind because the president is in danger.
I imagine (because I cannot help it) a different version of this story, in which Dan's politics inform John's actions more. In which maybe saving the president is more a byproduct of John's revenge plot, like, oh the president is captive, too, maybe I will tell him how awful he is while I'm getting the more important business done. (More important business being vengeance for the slaughtered rangers and saving Amy, because damn it, Hollywood trope or not, that would make a better ending here. Also, Tonto would have more to do in the third act. I swear they don't even show how he gets into Cavendish's compound; we see Silver helping John over the wall, but then Tonto is just there.)
And, it would be interesting to have a Lone Ranger more true to the creed that Fran Striker invented for the character (which almost feels like the MCU version of Captain America, actually):
I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.
That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
That God put the firewood there but that every man must gather and light it himself.
Okay, that's a bit too rugged individualism, maybe. Too much the American Dream and not enough practical justice. If anyone should realize that some people are not allowed by society or circumstance to gather and light the firewood themselves, it would be the Lone Ranger.
In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
Perhaps a little vague or too open for interpretation with that "most".
That "This government, of the people, by the people, and for the people" shall live always.
That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
Like that, for example--this utilitarian approach feels contrary to the firewood line and that make the most line.
That sooner or later... somewhere... somehow... we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
And that--that is so far from modern "conservatism" when the cowboy ideal is inherently conservative. But, with a good writer, you could play with both angles.
Then, it gets a bit vague, subjective, and specifically theist, before circling back into the thing I like about the Lone Ranger...
That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.
The Lone Ranger should feel more like--and I cannot help but compare to recent cinematic/Netflix interpretations--Spider-Man or Daredevil than Iron Man, like a small-scale Captain America saving people from small-scale injustice. Cavendish should really be threatening the town, not the country. The Lone Ranger is a one man (with his sidekick Tonto, of course) Magnificent Seven, more Robin Hood than James Bond. In this incarnation, they even make him a lawyer instead of a ranger, and he begins a relationship with a journalist. There is room for some great storytelling there, involving propaganda and politics, the legend of a hero rather than just his guns.