Writes Roger Ebert: "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" tells the kind of story that John Huston or Sam Peckinpah might have wanted to film. It begins with a bedrock of loyalty and honor between men, and mixes it with a little madness. In an era when hundreds of lives are casually destroyed in action movies, here is an entire film in which one life is honored, and one death is avenged.
The director and star is Tommy Lee Jones, and the story proceeds directly from fundamental impulses we sense in many of his screen appearances. Jones is most at home in characters who mean business and do not suffer fools gladly. Here he plays Pete Perkins, the hard-working operator of a small cattle operation, who hires an illegal Mexican immigrant named Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo) to work as a cowboy for him. When Melquiades is killed in a stupid shooting involving a rookie agent for the Border Patrol, Pete sees that the local sheriff (Dwight Yoakam) is going to ignore the case. So Pete takes justice into his own hands. And not simple justice, which might involve killing the agent, but poetic justice, which elevates the movie into the realms of parable.
The Complete Review here. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060202/REVIEWS/60117002