Rewriting Rotten Movies: “The Lone Ranger” (2013)


Rewriting Rotten Movies is where we select popular movies which received poor or mixed reviews, and attempt to improve it by performing a short rewrite. Additionally, movies are hard to make so we won’t be criticizing the original.

Title: “The Lone Ranger” (2013)

Rotten Tomato Score:


Cold Open

1869 Texas desert at night, a Native American Warrior (Johnny Depp) drags the bloody corpse of a Man (Armie Hammer), and buries it in the sand. After hours of the Warrior performing a strange ritual involving smoke and chanting, he gives up and weeps on the ground. A moment later, an eerie presence falls on the earth where the Warrior stands, and then the hand of the dead Man bursts out of the sand. He has returned to life.

First Act

The resurrected Man is confused, having no memory of who he is or where he came from. The Warrior introduces himself as Tonto and explains what happened: a posse of bandits, led by Cavendish Butch attacked a small town where The Man lived. He tried to defend it, being a Texas Ranger, but failed. He, his family, and the rest of the residents were massacred and the town burned to the ground. Tonto further explains he was passing through when the spirits called to him and told him The Man was meant to be their hero who will avenge the dead and protect the living. Not wanting to disrespect the spirits, he performed an ancient ritual, which allowed the slain spirits to enter his body and give him life and the strength and senses of hundreds of men and woman.

At first The Man doesn’t want to accept this responsibility, but is filled with zeal for it when Tonto puts on a black mask made from the clothing of his slain wife and daughter. He will find Cavendish and his gang and kill them all.

The Man uses his new senses to track Cavendish’s gang to another small Texas town, which they have taken over. Cavendish is not there, but his second in command is, a dirty man with one tooth. The Man challenges him to a one on one duel in the middle of the street.

The One Toothed Man agrees but cheats by shooting him before they draw. The rest of the gang laughs, but stop when they see The Man is still alive and unfazed by the bullet wound. A shootout occurs between them, and The Man easily wins.

Only the One Toothed Man is left; he shoots at The Man, but misses and kills a white horse behind him. Then he runs away.

Tonto searches a dead man’s pocket for his clues while The Man mourns the murdered white horse and the death he’s caused. He has a quick vision of something burning in the night and he hears screaming.

Snap back to reality, he touches the horse and feels a power go out of him. Tonto shows him what he found, an anonymous note with an address, date, and key. Again The Man is unsure if he wants to continue to avenge, hating the death he caused, but Tonto reminds him of his massacred family and town. He agrees again and with this information – they head to the address on the letter.

Second Act

The letter leads them to a bank in a populated city. ‘Dead or Alive’ wanted posters of Tonto and the Man are all over the city. They call him the ‘Lone Ranger’. They enter the bank and learn the key goes to a lockbox, however, they’re unable to unlock it without identification. Then the Bank Clerk recognizes Tonto and calls the Sheriff. Before he can do this, the now Lone Ranger dons his mask and holds up the bank as if he’s robbing it. As Tonto searches in the bank’s backroom for the lockbox, the Lone Ranger tries to distract the Sheriff and his officers who circle the Bank.

Tonto finds and opens the lockbox. It contains a bar of silver and a map. Disappointed he asks for more time and looks in the accounting records for who owns the box. Out of time, the Officers enter the bank, forcing Lone Ranger to take them out in creative and non-lethal ways. Tonto finds the record, but they are pinned down. Then a white Horse gallops into the bank and saves both them. Lone Ranger recognizes the horse as the dead one he mourned. A chase ensues, but the officers are no match for the speed of the white horse.


On the outskirts of the city, Tonto inspects the map and looks through the file, while Lone Ranger thanks the White Horse, which he names ‘Silver’ due to the contents of the lockbox. Tonto becomes frustrated as the person who owns the lockbox is some unknown woman’s name ‘ Red Harrington’. Lone Ranger recognizes the name, but is unsure why. Somehow he also knows where to find her.

Meanwhile, Cavendish is told the news of the robbery by one of his henchmen. The One Toothed Man says it’s the same guy and ‘Indian’ who attacked and killed his men. Cavendish makes known his hatred for Native Americans and comments that the man in the mask is a dead man.

While traveling on ‘Silver’, they pass men working on the railroad. Tonto explains to Lone Ranger that they are almost done. After years, of purchasing land and building tracks from Texas to California, the train is scheduled to start in a few days. They even wanted his people’s land, but they said no.

That night while they camp under the stars, Lone Ranger asks Tonto about his people, because he never talked about them. Tonto becomes defensive and says he is alone, which Lone Ranger responds that he isn’t alone, because he’s his friend. This makes Tonto smile, which then turns into a frown.

Finally, they arrive at a Brothel in the middle of nowhere where Red Harrington (Helen Bonham Carter) works as a prostitute. Lone Ranger pretends to be a customer and asks specifically for her. The seven foot tall Lady Owner is very suspicious of his request, but agrees.

While he waits in a room, Tonto hides in the closet. When she enters, she looks at him with surprise, and before she can say anything Tonto grabs her and places a knife to her throat. Lone Ranger is confused that she seems to know him, but Tonto is busy interrogating her. He asks where Cavendish is. Red is tough and refuses to answer. She slips from his grasp and takes off her leg, revealing a gun.

Tonto hides from the gunfire until the Lone Ranger stops her. Tonto demands he kill her, but she calls him ‘John’, which sends him into a vision of burning teepees and Native Americans being shot. Before he can snap out of it, Tonto knocks him out and shoves him out the window. Tonto uses Red as a shield, and her leg as a weapon in order to escape from the hostile Brothel.


Lone Ranger wakes up in the desert with Tonto who is busy interrogating Red by hanging her off a cliff with a rope tied around her ankles.

Lone Ranger tries to calm Tonto, but he threatens Red until she blurts out the Railroad company has been secretly paying Cavendish’s gang to wipe out the Native American settlements who refused to sell their land to them so they could obtain it. Furthermore, she tells them Cavendish is meant to wipe out the last settlement tomorrow and where it is. Tonto thanks Red, but still cuts the rope and she falls to her death. Lone Ranger is upset by what Tonto has done, but they continue on.

They journey to the next targeted settlement where they warn them and all plan to ambush Cavendish when he arrives.

While the tribe waits for Cavendish, Lone Ranger attempts to comfort Tonto, who has been acting coldly since Red. Tonto refuses to speak to him, but Lone Ranger continues to comfort, which softens Tonto who begins to say something, but is cut off by Cavendish and his gangs arrival.

The Tribe springs their trap, but are overcome by the enemy’s firepower. The fight becomes chaos and full of smoke as someone lit the teepees on fire. Lone Ranger does his best to fight, but he keeps having visions and so takes his mask off to try and see what is real. Then amidst the battle, Cavendish confronts him. However, instead of shooting the Lone Ranger, he embraces him in a hug.

Out of nowhere, Tonto attacks Cavendish and they fight, but before he can strike him down, the Lone Ranger stops him. With his gun pointed at Tonto, he finally remembers who he was in a final vision.

He rides with Cavendish and their gang into a Native American Settlement to slaughter the tribe and burn the village down; Lone Ranger see himself with Cavendish as they gun down the tribe, specifically a woman and child. Then out of nowhere, Lone Ranger is shot with an arrow and falls unconscious to the ground. Long after the battle is over, he wakes up to a warrior (Tonto) standing over him who delivers a deathblow with a tomahawk. Tonto resurrected him, the Lone Ranger aka John Butch, so he could get revenge on Cavendish Butch; the brothers who murdered his family and destroyed his home. His vision ends with the spirits of hundreds of the Native Americans exiting his body.

The vision causes John (Lone Ranger) to faint, allowing Tonto to escape on Silver. With the last tribe destroyed, Cavendish argues with the One Toothed Man about not killing his brother. He abandons his gang and rats on them to the Texas Rangers. Then he brings his brother to the railroad company.

Upon waking, John no longer has his powers and is devastated when realizing his responsibility for the death of Tonto’s family and tribe. Cavendish comforts his brother and reminds him who he was. When he does, John remembers his brother and feels love towards him. Cavendish reveals they did what they had too in order to have better lives as the Railroad promised them executive positions in the business. They can shed their pasts and become new men, no longer having to kill; it was their plan all along. John is conflicted, but goes with Cavendish because he loves him and feels too ashamed to go after Tonto.

Third Act

On the day of the Union Ceremony of the Railroad, John and Cavendish attend the celebration, and ride in the twin train’s “maiden voyage”, as they now hold powerful positions in the company. The brothers dine with the other executives and wealthy elite in one of the front cars while regular passengers fill the back cars.

John is distracted and lost. He’s still haunted by what he’s done. He still holds onto the black mask, which he stares at until his brother, Cavendish, finds him, and has him hand it over, stating he needs to let it go. After doing so, John wanders into an empty car to think, and is attacked by Tonto who snuck aboard. John doesn’t fight back and Tonto stands over him ready to kill (like before). John apologizes for what he did to his friend. Tonto cries out in anger, and doesn’t kill him, but promises to kill Cavendish.

An explosion sounds and shakes the trains. Cavendish’s Gang has returned for revenge, led by the One Toothed Man, and they’ve blown up the railroad bridge. The gang invades the trains caboose and shoot their way to the front.

John rides Silver to save the passengers in the back, while Tonto moves forward to the front to kill Cavendish (the “William Overture” plays).

After a spectacular chase on horseback and fire fights with Cavendish’s gang on both trains, John detaches the passenger carts from the rest of the trains. While Tonto advances to the front where the One Toothed Man is closing in on Cavendish and the Elite. John furiously rides on Silver to the trains.

In the front cars, Cavendish, the One Toothed Man and Tonto fight each other, going between the two trains. John catches up and calls for Cavendish and Tonto to jump onto Silver before the trains plummet to their demise. Tonto kills the One Toothed Man before he can kill Cavendish. The two of them wrestle. John cries out for both of them, but neither are listening. Tonto sees flashes of a burning teepee and his rage grows. The black mask falls from Cavendish’s pocket and stares at Tonto. He remembers his wife and daughter and has a vision of a teepee that is not burning. He stops fighting and tells Cavendish he doesn’t need vengeance. Cavendish doesn’t care and stabs Tonto. In a flash, John catches Tonto and shoots his brother in the shoulder, which keeps him from escaping the train as it plunges off the cliff.

Immediately, John tends to Tonto, who calls him ‘Kemosabe’ and forgives him before dying.

A short time after, John publicly exposes the Railroad Company’s connections regarding the extermination of Native American Settlements. As a result, the company is dissolved and those involved are jailed. Then the remaining tribesmen are found and given back their lands to rebuild and settle again.

John takes Tonto’s body back to his home and buries him with his family. He says goodbye to Tonto, telling him he hopes he’s at peace with his wife and daughter and he’s going to devote the rest of his life to be a hero who will avenge the dead and protect the living…maybe even become a real ranger.

The movie ends, with John leaving the black mask on Tonto’s grave and riding off on Silver into the sunset.


Thanks for reading our rewrite of “The Lone Ranger” (2013); we hope you enjoyed it. Let us know your thoughts in the comments and what popular movies you may want us to do next.


  • Show Comments

  • Dom

    There’s something very satisfying about reading an alternative plot to an already weak and predictable story. While the movie was less than exciting, the changes made by this writer made it a much more captivating read. Well done! I look forward to reading more from you.

Comments are closed.


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