In this his debut as a director, Tommy Lee Jones plays Pete Perkins, a grizzled cattle rancher on the Texas-Mexico border. Pete befriends and bonds with an illegal immigrant named Melquiades Estrada whom he hired as a ranch hand. He also promised to bury Melquiades back in his hometown if he happened to die north of the border. In a freak accident, a rookie border patrol agent named Mike Norton murders Melquiades, who had fired in his direction at a coyote. Pete knows that the redneck immigration authorities will do nothing, so in an act of vigilante justice he exhumes Melquiades, forces Norton to carry his body across the most lonesome, isolated, hostile territory you can imagine, and eventually gives him a proper burial. In the end, Norton asks forgiveness for killing Melquiades (disproving his wife Lou Anne's judgment that he's “a sonofabitch beyond redemption”), who otherwise remind us of all the many obscure, insignificant people whose fates are forgotten by the world—but not by someone as loyal as Tommy Lee Jones. Written by screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, 21 Grams).