Australian Council on Children and the Media

Lone Ranger, The

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Lone Ranger, The
  • a review of Lone Ranger, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 4 July 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Lone Ranger, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence
Length 149 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film opens in 1933 where a young boy dressed in a Lone Ranger costume is visiting a Wild West Show and comes face to face with an elderly Native American, Tonto (Jonny 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 origins of the Lone Ranger.

As Tonto tells his story the film jumps back in time to the American West of 1869 where we find Territorial Prosecutor John Reid (Armie Hammer) on a train. On the same train is the outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), who is in custody and being transported to Colby in Texas to be hanged for a multitude of crimes. Also held in custody is Tonto, a Comanche, who for reasons of his own has deliberately had himself arrested and placed on the train with Cavendish. Before the train can reach Colby, Butch acquires a gun hidden beneath some floor boards, shoots the guards and escapes.

Upon arrival in Colby, John Reid is promptly deputised into the Texas Rangers by his older brother Dan Reid (James Badge Dale). A posse of Texas Rangers including the two brothers is ordered by railway tycoon Col (Tony Wilkinson) to find Butch and bring him back to Colby to be hanged.

Unfortunately the Rangers don’t get far before they are ambushed by Butch and his gang of outlaws and massacred. Tonto, having recently escaped from custody, arrives on the scene and not only saves John’s life, but transforms him into the masked “Lone Ranger”.

The remainder of the film portrays a series of adventures as the Lone Ranger and Tonto attempt to bring Butch to justice.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Revenge; outlaws; the massacre of Native Americans; cannibalism

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains sequences of intense action violence (at times brutal), numerous deaths, one scene depicting a cannibalistic act, and some blood and gore. Examples include:

  • 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 to 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 and when she is unable to pull a ring off, he pulls out a large knife and moves to cut off her finger; the act occurs off screen.  
  • We hear reference to a man eating another man’s heart and eyes.
  • In an ambush scene we see a number of Texas Rangers are shot and killed by unseen assailants. 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 inference being that he cut out and ate the man’s heart. In a later scene we see the same man licking his own blood from the edge of a cutthroat razor.
  • One scene depicts a man being shot and then scalped, we see a man with a large knife standing over the shot man and raising the knife into the air and his arm perform a slicing action, but the actual scalping is not seen. 
  • The Lone Ranger, in a frenzy, brutally attacks another man by hitting the man across the face a number of times with a gun     
  • A group of soldiers on horseback is attacked by a group of Native Americans with bows and arrows. 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 of the Native Americans lie dead on the ground.   
  • In one scene we see a young Native American child cut down with a sword.
  • One scene depicts the aftermath of the destruction of a village. Dozens of dead bodies, including women and children, are scattered over the ground and the remains of their homes are still smouldering.  
  • A man slaps a young boy across the face, knocking him to the ground; we see a bloody cut on the boy’s face. The man taking off his belt, saying 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 killing two men. We see one of the men sinking to the bottom of the river and lying dead.  

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are a number of scary looking characters, including some of the outlaws and Tonto himself
  • In a scene intended to be comical, a number of 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, upon which the rabbits take on a rabid appearance with mouths full of fangs, and leap at the roasted rabbit leg, devouring it in a frenzy. 
  • One scene depicts the Lone Ranger and Tonto buried in the ground with only their heads visible. We see 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.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

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

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

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

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

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

Product placement

None in the film but associated products such as Lego being merchandised to young children.

Sexual references

The film contains a few sexual references and some innuendo.  Examples include:

  • The madam of a brothel makes the remark that there would not be a railroad “without women like mine” meaning prostitutes doing the “heavy lifting”. 
  • A man makes reference to being afraid of another man violating him with a duck’s foot.
  • A man asks a woman what it is about her that makes another man so hot under the collar, and then says “Maybe I’ll have a taste anyway”.  

Nudity and sexual activity

  • One scene depicts 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 depicts a man dressed in women’s clothing.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A couple of scenes depict a man drinking whisky from a hip flask.  He empties one flask and then starts to drink from a second flask, and we hear comments made that the man is intoxicated and smells like a distillery.
  • A number of other scenes of whisky being drunk, including by a horse

Coarse language

The film has some coarse language and name calling. Examples include:

  • Hell; piss bucket; lord save us; crazy; halfwit; harlot; Injuns

In a nutshell

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 side-kick, Tonto. The numerous subplots make it rather confusing, it is very long and some of the humour seems juvenile, but it is likely to be enjoyed by Johnny Depp fans. It features over-the-top action, with a number of violent and scary scenes which make it unsuitable for children under 13 and some teens. Children may be particularly disturbed by references to, and scenes of, cannibalism and scenes of harm done to children.

Parents may wish to discuss the film’s portrayal of the question of revenge and justice and how the law deals with this. Tonto wants revenge against the men who massacred his tribe, while the Lone Ranger wants justice for his murdered brother and finds it hard to work within the law.

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