The movie may be misunderstood as being some kind of set-piece for the current illegal alien controversy, but I think it was intended to be much more and much deeper than that, if I've understood anything at all about Tommy Lee Jones. My viewpoint is different from most because I lived for years in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas. I've jeeped in vast, wild areas there with nothing but a companion, food, beer, and our weapons. I loved the Mexican people who lived there, along with the other "gringos" like me, who were often misfits, derelicts, outcasts from the defunct oil fields, and more than a few borderline criminals in a savagely cruel border land.
My wife hated the movie, and I don't think many women will like it. It's a man's movie, as most of Mr. Jones' movies are. The appeal is limited to Westerners, I think, because I doubt that anyone seeing this in, say, Indianapolis, or Boston, will have any idea what the hell it's all about, or that such a thing could even be possible. It can. Actually, I'd say that if I read about such a thing happening in the El Paso Times it wouldn't surprise me overly. Nobody ever went jeeping in the Daylight Draw from the Rio Grande up to Sierra Blanca, Texas, without a revolver and a rifle, but how do you explain why that it is to someone who's never been west of the Pecos River?
Well, it's about a man, his friend, the man's anger, the man's outrage over the death of his friend, and the relentless, untiring pursuit of justice, set in an ancient, hostile, horribly beautiful country, surprisingly little disturbed by "civilized" men since the Spanish blundered over it centures ago. And it's about indifference, shallow stupidity, crude sex, and the infliction of TV on rural Mexicans. I don't know which is worse... but it seasons the flavor of what you, the viewer, come to see as the utter reality of such a place in this time.
Mr. Pepper's performance is surprising, authentic, and probably more like that of some poor interloper from Indianapolis than anything else. He ought to be nominated for an Academy Award, but he won't be. Tommy Lee Jones really appears as himself, by contrast. Honest, loyal, devoted, hard as flint, and very, very West Texas. Mil gracias, Senior Jones!