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The Lone Ranger Movie Review

Reviewed by on Jul 03, 2013
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld reviews the big summer Western adventure movie The Lone Ranger!

By: Lynn Barker

What do you do when your world falls apart? For Tonto and John Reid (later The Lone Ranger), the answer is team up and become the most famous hero/outlaw duo in the Old West! 

Telling the Tale 

In 1930’s San Francisco, a young boy in a Lone Ranger cowboy outfit, complete with mask, visits a Wild West exhibit where one of the displays “comes to life”. The now elderly Indian Tonto (Johnny Depp) starts telling the tale of his exploits long ago with The Lone Ranger. 

Tonto and the Ranger Tonto and the Ranger

Reid and the Killer 

In 1869 Texas, young District Attorney John Reid (Armie Hammer) is returning home onboard a train carrying killer Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner)  to trial. Butch is chained next to Comanche Indian Tonto who secretly wants to kill him. When Butch’s gang boards the train and frees Butch, Reid tries to stop him and ends up chained next to Tonto who is angry at him for messing up his chance to kill old enemy Butch. After some serious getaway action, the train derails and Tonto and Reid barely survive. 

Armie as the Ranger Armie as the Ranger

Escape and the Ambush

Reid sees that Butch is put in jail to await trial but he escapes. After greeting his old girlfriend Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) who is now married to his lawman brother Dan (James Badge Dale), Reid is deputized a Texas Ranger by his bro and the Rangers go after Butch and gang only to ride into an ambush. All are seemingly killed. Tonto finds and buries them but Reid pops to life suddenly and is befriended by a wild white horse that won’t leave him alone. Tonto is sure Reid is an invincible “SpiritWalker” and gives him a mask made of his dead bro’s leather vest. “They think you are dead”. Stay that way and get revenge. 

Ruth Wilson as Rebecca Ruth Wilson as Rebecca

New News in Town

The new duo rides into town and to a saloon run by Red (Helena Bonham Carter) who is also out to get Butch who may be after the silver in a local mine. When Dan’s widow and son are captured by Butch there is yet another reason to get him. Tonto and Reid (now the Lone Ranger) end up in an Indian camp where the natives are preparing for war against evil whites who are framing them for attacks on settlers and the railroad. 

Ranger and Tonto visit Red Ranger and Tonto visit Red

Tonto’s Burden

Indians tell Reid that Tonto’s village was destroyed when he was a young boy by the men that he once led to the same silver mine Butch wants. Still wanting to bring Butch to justice rather than killing him, Reid is ready to leave Tonto behind but, only Tonto knows the way to the mine. Meanwhile, Rebecca and son have escaped and end up with evil railroad tycoon Latham Cole (Tom Wilkenson) who also wants the silver to buy a railroad empire and wants the boy to raise as his own. 

Bill Fichtner as Butch Bill Fichtner as Butch

Going Outlaw

Reid once again captures Butch and turns him over to Cole only to learn that the two are working together and are knee deep in all the illegal and immoral doings in the area including the massacre of the Comanche warriors. Finally, Reid goes full Lone Ranger and sides with Tonto. He will fight for justice as an outlaw and wear the mask. 

Tonto and the Ranger in Monument Valley Tonto and the Ranger in Monument Valley

Final Race to Victory 

In an amazing action finale that includes two runaway trains, train cars full of silver and a blown up bridge, Tonto, The Lone Ranger, Red, Rebecca and her son save the day. Reid/Ranger can’t really settle down with Rebecca. He has to stay hidden and fight for justice. He names his horse Silver and he and Tonto ride on.  We go back to 1930’s San Francisco where elderly Tonto finishes telling his tale. By the time he’s finished, the boy believes in a little magic and The Lone Ranger. 

Tonto on the runaway train Tonto on the runaway train

Wrapping Up

Although certainly entertaining in many scenes, The Lone Ranger film is very uneven in tone. It’s a strange mix of slapstick comedy and serious, violent themes like the genocide of American Indian populations by the U.S. Army with overkill machine (Gatling) guns! Some very serious and sad story points lose heart and impact because they are glossed over quickly and followed by lightweight humor. 

Tonto talks to Silver Tonto talks to Silver

Although both Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer flesh out their characters with style, both play the icons as too buffoonish to take seriously. Frontier lawyer John Reid, later the Lone Ranger, is a naïve, “goodie goodie” and clueless to the evil in front of his face for so long that you want to give him a wake up punch long before he finally realizes that his precious law is corrupt and that the Old West really does need a hero/outlaw!  

William Fichtner is very good and creepy as the bad guy with a deformed face who is into overkill violence and questionable appetites. Helena Bonham Carter is feisty fun as a hooker/madam with a fake leg that really comes in handy in a crisis. 

Helena as Red Helena as Red

The classic western background vistas are impressive, the stunts are huge and clever and the final edge-of-your-seat action on the tops of two runaway trains goes on under the classic “Lone Ranger Theme” that we all remember (actually Rossini's William Tell Overture). Although the movie is about 20 minutes too long, this cool action scene alone might really make your day at the movies.  

The poster The poster

At the end of the film, the Ranger rears high on his horse Silver to yell “Hiyo Silver, away” for the first time only to be told by Tonto.. “Never do that again” and that kind of caps off my opinion of the movie. It’s just a weird mix of humor and drama that doesn’t always mesh. We’ll go 3 stars.

The Lone Ranger Movie Rating: 3

The Lone Ranger is in theaters today!