Tommy Lee Jones takes control of the camera--from the other side--in his first feature film effort. Which, guess what, stars himself! (Why not?) In his remarkable rookie endeavor, he plays a local ranch foreman who determines that emotionally unstable border patrol agent Barry Pepper has shot his Mexican best friend (the titular Melquiades), and now it's time for payback.
But rather than just commit a violent act against Pepper as revenge, he forces him to help bring the rotting corpse across the border to Mexico, where he can be buried with his family. Like most westerns, the action is slow and the dialogue slower, but that only helps to ratchet up the drama. Lee knows the lifestyle and people of Texas (it's his home state), so everything from the waitress' drawl to the border patrol's redneck ways are right on. You get 'em, cowboy.