Story

The Lone Ranger begins in 1933. A young boy dressed in a Lone Ranger costume is visiting a Wild West Show. He comes face to face with an elderly Native American, Tonto (Johnny Depp), who is part of a display. Tonto trades a dead mouse for the boy’s bag of peanuts, and then tells the boy the true story of the Lone Ranger.

As Tonto tells his story, the movie jumps back in time to the American West of 1869. Territorial Prosecutor John Reid (Armie Hammer) is travelling on the same train as outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). Butch is in custody and being transported to Colby in Texas to be hanged. Also in custody is Tonto, a Comanche, who has deliberately had himself arrested and put on the train with Butch. Before the train can reach Colby, Butch gets a gun hidden beneath some floorboards, shoots the guards and escapes.

In Colby, John Reid is deputised into the Texas Rangers by his older brother Dan Reid (James Badge Dale). The Texas Rangers are ordered by railway tycoon Col (Tom Wilkinson) to find Butch and bring him back to Colby for hanging. Unfortunately the Rangers are ambushed and massacred by Butch and his gang of outlaws. But Tonto has also escaped from custody. He arrives and not only saves John’s life, but transforms him into the masked ‘Lone Ranger’.

The rest of the movie follows the adventures of the Lone Ranger and Tonto as they try to bring Butch to justice.

Themes

Revenge; outlaws; the massacre of Native Americans; cannibalism

Violence

This movie has:

  • sequences of intense and sometimes brutal action violence
  • numerous deaths
  • one scene showing a cannibalistic act
  • some blood and gore.

For example:

  • An outlaw shoots several men in cold blood without warning and strangles one man with a heavy metal chain.
  • Men are thrown from a train and tumble along the ground. One man is hit in the face with the butt of a gun and one is kicked in the head, then picked up and thrown through a window.
  • A man robs a woman. When she can’t pull a ring off, he pulls out a large knife and moves to cut off her finger. This happens off screen.
  • Characters talk about a man eating another man’s heart and eyes.
  • In an ambush scene, outlaws shoot and kill several Texas Rangers. One man has bloody bullet wounds to his chest and spits out blood. An outlaw with a hunting knife approaches a wounded man, squats down and plunges the knife into the man’s chest. The scene cuts to a second outlaw vomiting after witnessing what is happening. When the outlaw with the knife stands up, his hands and mouth are covered in blood. The scene suggests that he cut out and ate the man’s heart. In a later scene, the same man licks his own blood from the edge of a cut-throat razor.
  • A man is shot and then scalped. A man with a large knife stands over the shot man and raises a knife into the air. He brings his arm down to slice, but the scene doesn’t show the actual scalping.
  • The Lone Ranger brutally attacks another man by hitting the man across the face several times with a gun.
  • A group of Native Americans with bows and arrows attacks a group of soldiers on horseback. One soldier is shot in the face with an arrow. Soldiers shoot the Native Americans, and one soldier stabs a Native American in the chest with his sword. At the end of the battle, all the Native Americans lie dead on the ground.
  • A Native American child is cut down with a sword.
  • One scene shows the aftermath of the destruction of a village. Dozens of dead bodies, including women and children, are scattered over the ground. The remains of their homes smoulder in the background.
  • A man slaps a young boy across the face, knocking him to the ground. There is a bloody cut on the boy’s face. The man takes off his belt and says that he is going to teach the boy some respect.
  • A railway suspension bridge is blown up with dynamite, causing a train to plummet into the river. Two men die. One man sinks to the bottom of the river and lies there dead.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • There are several scary-looking characters, including some of the outlaws and Tonto himself.
  • In a scene intended to be funny, some rabbits watch a rabbit on a spit being roasted over a fire. A man pulls a leg off the roasted rabbit and throws it to the live rabbits. The rabbits take on a rabid appearance and seem to have mouths full of fangs. They leap at the roasted rabbit leg, devouring it in a frenzy.
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto are buried in the ground with only their heads visible. Dozens of scorpions come out of the ground and crawl over their heads and faces. Before the scorpions sting either man, a horse licks the scorpions from their faces and eats the scorpions.

From 5-8

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violent and disturbing scenes described above. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group might also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above and by the frequent violence, particularly in scenes involving children. 

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Sexual references

This movie has a few sexual references and some innuendo. For example:

  • The madam of a brothel says that there would not be a railroad ‘without women like mine’ (meaning prostitutes) doing the ‘heavy lifting’.
  • A man talks about being afraid of another man violating him with a duck’s foot.
  • A man asks a woman why she makes another man so hot under the collar. Then he says, ‘Maybe I’ll have a taste anyway’. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

There is some use of substances in this movie. For example:

  • A man drinks whisky from a hip flask. He empties one flask and then starts to drink from a second flask. Other people say that the man is drunk and smells like a distillery.
  • Several scenes show people drinking whisky. In one scene a horse drinks whisky.

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • One scene shows a brothel with prostitutes wearing revealing clothing.
  • The madam of the brothel shows her tattooed ivory artificial leg, asking men if they would like to touch it.
  • One scene shows a man dressed in women’s clothing. 

Product placement

There is no product placement in this movie, but associated products such as Lego are being marketed to children. 

Coarse language

This movie has some coarse language and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Lone Ranger is a comedy western targeting a wide-ranging audience.

It tells the familiar story of the masked Lone Ranger from the unfamiliar perspective of his sidekick, Tonto. The many subplots make it rather confusing. It is also very long and some of the humour seems juvenile, but Johnny Depp fans are likely to enjoy it.

It features over-the-top action, with several violent and scary scenes that make it unsuitable for children under 13 years, as well as some teenagers. Children might be particularly disturbed by references to and scenes of cannibalism, and scenes of children being hurt.

You could talk with your children about how the movie handles the issues of revenge and justice and how the law deals with them. Tonto wants revenge against the men who massacred his tribe. The Lone Ranger also wants justice for his murdered brother but finds it hard to work within the law.