Film and Plot Synopsis
Based on the radio series of the same name, this is the second screen adaptation of the origin story of the Lone Ranger. John Reed and his brother lead a group of Texas Rangers on a hunt for the notorious Butch Cavendish. The outlaw is able ambush the Rangers, leaving only John alive. John is nursed back to health by the Native American warrior Tonto who joins John on his quest to stop Cavendish and his allies and restore justice to the West.
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‘The Lone Ranger’ Movie Summary
The film jumps to 1869. Lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) is returning to his home in Colby, Texas after finishing law school. He travels along a train which is part of the yet incomplete Transcontinental Railroad, which is managed by tycoon Latham Cole (Tom Wilkinson). In the storage portion of the train, a younger Tonto and outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) are imprisoned and shackled. Cavendish is scheduled to be hung for his crimes after being captured by Dan Reid (James Badge Dale), the famous Texas Ranger and John’s older brother.
Cavendish’s gang attempts to rescue their leader. Tonto tries to stop the escape, wishing to kill the outlaw himself. However, his motives are misinterpreted by John who stops the Comanche. Nevertheless, Tonto and John are shackled together and after Cavendish’s gang derails the train, the pair manage to escape unharmed. Tonto is returned to custody and placed into Dan’s jail, while John reunites with his brother in Colby.
Dan creates a posse to head out after Cavendish which John joins after being deputized by his brother. Dan says goodbye to his wife Rebecca (Ruth Wilson) and their son Danny (Bryant Prince) before riding out of town. Rebecca is reluctant to see both men go, having secretly been in love with John even though married to Dan. Dan’s posse is ambushed in a canyon after they are betrayed by one of their own men, Collins (Leon Rippy). The posse is wiped out, and Cavendish kills Dan with his own dagger before cutting the heart out of the Ranger and eating it.
Tonto, who has somehow escaped from the jail in Colby, comes across the dead men and proceeds to bury them. The Comanche is approached by a white horse, whom Tonto believes is a spirit horse. The horse hovers over John’s body, who appears to come back to life. Tonto believes John is now a spirit walker and cannot be killed in battle. Tonto tells John that the Rangers were betrayed by Collins who is working with Cavendish. The Comanche tells John he must wear a mask to protect his identity from his enemies. He also makes a series of silver bullets that he has made from the badges of the fallen Rangers. Tonto believes that Cavendish is a mystical beast called a wendigo that can only be stopped by the specially made bullets.
Tonto and John head to a brothel that Collins had recently visited and question the establishment’s madam, Red Harrington (Helena Bonham Carter). Red informs the men that Dan and Collin fought over a silver rock, which Tonto believes to be cursed. Meanwhile, Cavendish’s men, disguised as Comanches, raid frontier settlements to stir up public opinion to act against the tribe. They abduct Rebecca and Danny during one of the raids and take them back to Cavendish’s camp. At the camp, Collins begins to regret his decision to betray Dan and helps Rebecca and Danny escape. Collins is shot dead by Cole, and Rebecca and Danny are “rescued” by the tycoon and placed on his train.
Cole convinces U.S. Cavalry Captain Jay Fuller (Barry Pepper) that the Comanches are on the war path and need to be killed. Meanwhile, Cole continues with his continued construction of the railroad. A Comanche tribe captures John and Tonto after they find railroad tracks in the territory given to the Comanche in a treaty. The Comanche leader tells John of Tonto’s past. As a boy, Tonto had rescued Cavendish and another man from near-death and later showed them a mountain full of silver ore. In exchange, a young Tonto received a cheap pocket watch. The two men later murdered Tonto’s entire tribe to keep the location of the mountain secret. Tonto was left to deal with his overwhelming grief, which caused the young Indian to believe that the two men were wendigos.
The Comanche camp is attacked by Fuller and his men while John and Tonto are buried up to their necks in the ground. They escape and head towards the silver mine, where they capture Cavendish. Tonto demands that John use one of the silver bullets to kill Cavendish, but John refuses, believing that the outlaw should be held accountable for his many crimes. John removes the mask despite Tonto’s objections and takes Cavendish into custody. Once Cavendish is turned over to Cole and Fuller, the tycoon is revealed to be the second man from Tonto’s childhood. Cole is in fact Cavendish’s partner and brother. Fuller, afraid that he will be labeled a war criminal for his massacre of the Comanche soldiers, decides to side with Cole.
John is taken by Cole’s men to be executed in the mine. Rebecca and Danny are held hostage. Tonto rescues John and the two men escape the mine. John realizes that Cole is too powerful to be taken down lawfully and feels guilty for the slaughter of the Comanches. He once again adorns the mask and rides out with Tonto to stop Cavendish and Cole.
Cole attends the railroad’s union ceremony at Promontory Summit. He reveals his intent to take control of the railroad company and use the mined silver to gain even more power. John and Tonto steal nitroglycerin and use it to destroy a railroad bridge. Red helps the two men steal the train with the silver from under Cole’s nose. Cavendish and Fuller pursue the silver train with a second train, which Rebecca and Danny are being held on. John pursues both trains on horseback.
There is a long chase and several gun battles, but eventually John kills Cavendish and Fuller. John also rescues Rebecca and Danny, who realize who he truly is. Tonto gives Cole the pocket watch back just before the train drives off the destroyed bridge. Cole is killed in the crash, but Tonto manages to escape safely. Shortly thereafter, the town recognizes John as a hero and offers him a job as a law enforcement officer. However, John turns down the assignment and rides off with Tonto to have further adventures.
The film returns to 1933. Will questions the validity of Tonto’s story. The Comanche responds by handing a silver bullet to the young boy and telling him to decide for himself. The elderly Tonto then quietly leaves as Will ponders the story and continues wearing the mask.
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