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Still shot from the movie: The Lone Ranger.

The Lone Ranger

Who is the man behind the mask? Native American warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp), who rides by his side insuring justice in the wild west, may be the best person to explain the legend of the Lone Ranger. Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: C 2.0
Violence: D
Sexual Content: B-
Language: B
Drugs/Alcohol: C+
Run Time: 150
Theater Release: 03 Jul 2013
Video Release: 17 Dec 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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Pirates of the Caribbean has invaded the old west in this version of The Lone Ranger. With Pirates franchise director Gore Verbinski at the helm and Johnny Depp playing the iconic Tonto, it is no wonder the film’s previews give us a familiar feeling. But before you pack up the kids and grandkids to see this new adventure, with fond memories of the old television series or the radio show that invented these characters racing through your head, know that this masked man is not like the one you remember.

The story begins with an introduction to John Reid (Armie Hammer), an idealistic law school graduate who is returning from the big city in 1869 to his dusty hometown of Colby, Texas. Naively optimistic, the zealous lawyer wants to bring his notions of peaceful justice to the Wild West. Unfortunately, riding on the same train is a shackled criminal named Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner). With the help of his former gun-slinging buddies, the notorious outlaw escapes his bonds—but not without first wreaking havoc on the nearly completed railroad.

With the prisoner on the loose, it becomes the job of Texas Ranger Dan Reid to recapture him. Dan also happens to be John’s brother. Pulling together a posse to hunt down the fugitive, Dan conscripts John (despite his obvious lack of useful skills), giving him a star badge and having him saddle up with the rest of the men setting out in hot pursuit.

Sadly these lawmen soon meet a terrible fate in the desert. Not content with merely shooting them down, Butch Cavendish also wants revenge, so he takes a perverse pleasure in removing Dan’s heart to fuel his infamous cannibalistic urges. (Viewers are only shown facial expressions and copious amounts of blood, but the scene is disturbing nonetheless, especially for those expecting the sort of popcorn violence popularized by their grandfather’s Lone Ranger.) Leaving the seven men for dead, the marauders ride off. Yet thanks to a mysterious white “spirit horse” and the reluctant help of a native named of Tonto, John Reid survives, becoming the Lone Ranger.

At Tonto’s suggestion, John dons a mask to obscure his identity and the duo begins working together to track Cavendish, although neither is happy with the other’s company. And each has separate views of what they mean by having the criminal face justice.

While the unlikely pairing of these characters provides plenty of opportunities for humor, parents likely won’t be prepared for the intensity of the violent portrayals found in this Disney-produced movie. Frequent, explicit scenes of killing include countless on-screen shootings with blood effects, along with dozens of other deaths and injuries caused from swashbuckling combat on top of moving trains. This mix of juvenile slapstick antics and comedic quips with mature content and disturbing often-gory acts will undoubtedly affect the box office too. Audiences young and old may be confused as to what group this movie is trying to please. Like the radio show of yesteryear, the film’s marketing guns appear aimed at the younger crowd. Yet that means moms and dads will be expected to explain such age inappropriate concepts as cannibalism, ethnic extermination and the operations of a brothel—all of which are key components to this movie’s plot.

With carnage that far surpasses the Pirates franchise, along with sexual innuendo and some serious themes involving the historical interplay between the American Indians and the European immigrants, the question you may be asking at the end of this movie is, “Who was that masked man, anyway?”

The Lone Ranger is rated PG-13: for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material.

Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner
Studio: 2013 Walt Disney Studios
Website: Official site for The Lone Ranger.

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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