A border patrolman shoots and kills the best friend of cowboy Tommy Lee Jones and when an indifferent police department refuses to get involved over the death of a “wetback”, he decides to dole out some old fashioned frontier justice.
Tommy Lee Jones’ directorial debut is a modern day western that examines the inherent racism in the attitude of the US towards its immigrants and the friendships that transcend it. It’s a very mature and measured film, beautifully shot with some great performances but I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. Not a great deal happened considering its length – it felt like Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia with all the exciting bits removed – and you have to swallow some pretty hefty coincidences to make the plot work. The underlying message is treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself as you never know when you may rely on the kindness of others, but Barry Pepper’s character was so irredeemable that it was difficult to care what happened to him, and the film just peters out to a whimper at the end. I also have to say I couldn’t help but be reminded of Weekend At Bernie’s during the scenes involving the corpse.
It’s a well made film but I felt it lacked focus and John Sayles’ Lone Star tackled similar subjects much more effectively.