Monday, February 21, 2011

998. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Running Time: 122 minutes
Directed By: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Written By: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Main Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Kelly Macdonald, Woody Harrelson


Continuing on with our Best Picture themed week, next up I took to my DVD shelf and plucked off "No Country for Old Men", a film that I saw in theatres approximately three years ago, when it was re-released due to it's Oscar nomination. I hadn't seen it since then, but did remember liking it enough to be anticipating the re-watch. I wasn't disappointed.

We get into the meat of the film when we happen upon Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) hunting antelope in a desert area in West Texas. After proving he's not perfect and missing the shot, he happens upon a mini massacre in the form of four vehicles and several dead bodies. After doing a little snooping we're able to piece together that the massacre came as a result of a drug deal, involving Mexicans, that has obviously gone terribly wrong. Llewelyn does some more snooping and finds a satchel containing over $2 million in cash. He takes it and makes his exit. He quickly realizes that by taking the money he has gotten into some inescapable trouble and he's not wrong, because now Anton Chigurh (Bardem) is on his tail and wants the money. Chigurh is an "ultimate bad ass" as Llewelyn puts it at one point in the film and he pretty much hits it on the head with that statement. Chigurh uses an air gun to ruthlessly kill pretty much anyone who stands between him and the money (and even some that don't). Most of the movie deals with the chase, as Chigurh chases Moss down, via a transponder that has been placed inside the money bag, allowing Chigurh to constantly know where Moss is. On both of their tales through the entire film is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Jones), a man who is ready to face the new generation of criminals that is being unleashed on society...or is he?


"No Country for Old Men" is a movie that you could definitely pick apart, piece by piece and examine every detail with a microscope to find hidden meanings and such. The movie has the base theme that eventually criminals will become smarter and more clever than law enforcement and thus the sheriffs of the days of old will be surpassed in their ultimate pursuit of evil. But was Sheriff Bell to old to play with the big boy criminal of Anton Chigurh? He obviously had a lead on this guy and seemed to stumble into possible solutions without even realizing, as when he told Carla Jean Moss (Kelly Macdonald) a story about a man killing cattle with an air gun. I mean he had the answer right on the tip of his tongue, but couldn't make the connection between his statement and the evidence that he saw earlier in the film...thus our title is born and West Texas in the 1980s was 'No Country for Old Men'. Another very appealing part of the movie, for me, is the story of a man who was able to escape pure evil on more than one occasion. Chigurh was the type of man that you didn't get away from once he had you locked in his sights, but Moss got away and even got a few jabs of his own in.

You could even examine the character of Chigurh, probably one of the most interesting and vile characters in 21st Century cinema, if not all of cinema. You could make comparisons to Chigurh possibly being a ghost or maybe he was even the Anti-Christ (the initials match - AC). The ghost theory certainly holds some weight, as Sheriff Bell even hints at this at one point when he is absolutely unable to find him. At one point, Bell is seemingly inside the same hotel room with Chigurh, but Chigurh seems to somehow vanish and escape Bell yet again. You could pick apart the movie like this, but the point I'm trying to get to is why would you want to? "No Country for Old Men" is not a movie where you must find an answer in order to follow or be entertained. The film works on its own and there are no answers that are going to intensify the suspense or make you grip your chair arms any harder. Moss has a satchel full of cash and Chigurh wants it and in the meanwhile, there's a Sheriff who wouldn't mind pinning both these guys down, because obviously some crimes have been committed and some asses need to be pulled in.

I love the Coen Brothers. I love their brand of violence as it seems to be so gruesome, yet have merit all at the same time. This is a violent film, because one of the main characters is a very violent closed. The Coen's know how to hook you and then shock you once they have you immersed in the picture. Whether it's Moss shooting a dog, Chigurh blowing a dead bolt out with his air gun or getting t-boned by another car, the Coens know how to make people jump and ring in that true to life factor of...shit happen when you least expect it. Great film which was definitely deserving of Best Picture, although I've yet to see all of the nominees from that particular year. Also, great acting, as Bardem is amazing as the psychopath, Jones as the old timer and Brolin as the man on the run. It also has mesmerizing cinematography (as most Coen movies have) and an atmosphere that is almost frightening.

RATING: 10/10 Yep...The full monty. This may be in contention as my favorite Coen Brothers movie ever, but still in a hot foot race with "Fargo", which we'll eventually get to.


February 21, 2011 1:45am


  1. I really like the Coens, and admire almost all their films. This one was, perhaps slightly harder going than others, but it's still damn good.
    I have a friend who knows, or rather knew next to nothing about film. As we got to know each other I became sort of charged with 'educating' her from my collection.. mostly older stuff.
    With all the buzz around 'True Grit', last time she visied she asked me about the Coen Brothers. Knowing she dosn't like her films too off beat, and likes to see 'a good story', I showed her Fargo, and it was a hit with her.
    Fired up, she went home and borrowed 'No country..' from a near neighbour.
    Thats one person who won't now be seeing 'True Grit' I'm afraid.

  2. Like I said in the review "No Country for Old Men" made it's way to the top of my BEST COEN BROTHERS FILMS list, maybe just being beat out by "Fargo" (which we'll get to someday, as it is in the book). Can't wait to see "True Grit".


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