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No Country for Old Men

A 2008 movie starring Javier Bardem directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

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"The Dismal Tide"

  • Nov 24, 2007
Times have changed. Surely that's what Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) has in mind when he visits an old friend and commiserates about how things ain't like they used to be. "This land's hard," muses his friend. Another police friend has examples of kids with green hair and bones in their noses who have left out "Sir," and "Ma'am" out of their vocabulary. They both shake their heads over "The dismal tide".

But, really we're not all that ready for the events that happen, either. Significantly, a chilling psychopath, Chigurh (Javier Bardem) goes on a rampage, slipping out of a U.S. border town deputy's hands with the coolest and calloused of skill. He's involved with a drug ring, one that has a shoot out that's left about a dozen dead in the desert. Besides a gun that has the force of a lightening bolt, his weapon of choice is an electrical device--one that's meant to quickly put cattle out of their misery (something like a hydrolic nail dispenser). Just like Tommy Lee Jone's portrayal of Two Face in 'Batman Forever' Batman Forever his bitterness of fate has his victims choosing heads or tails in a coin toss, meant to mirror the randomness of bitter fortune in his own life. The difference is that in the 'Batman' movie it was campy; here it comes across with deadly solemnity--one that hits you right between the eyes. The only one who comes the closest to understanding him is Carson Wells, (Woody Harrelson), a man with corporate ties whose one conversation reveals quite a lot.

So it goes with the rest of the movie. A Vietnam vet, Llewelyn (Josh Brolin), takes the center stage. While hunting antelope in the desert, he comes across the aftermath of the shootout and discovers a cache' of money. He isn't too forthcoming with his wife, Clara Jean (Kelly Macdonald), but he's on a mission as someone who hasn't seen too many breaks in his own life. Chigurh's stalking has so many twists to it that I found myself craning my neck as if I had to look around the corner from getting shot. It's all cat and mouse, and the villain seems to almost possess an unnerving omniscience for anyone who gets in his way. Chigurh eventually uses Clara Jean as bait for Llewllyn to give the money back. While I've seen many movies where the villain uses the spouse as bait, this movie rendered it so refreshingly original, I felt I was watching this plot component for the first time.

It has been said that the Coen Brothers are masters of plot. Here they draw from the same-titled novel by Cormac McCarthy. While I haven't read the novel, I am grateful that, although I'm a big Coen Brothers fan, they didn't resort to kidnapping in any frame of the movie. Besides that I never knew where this movie was going. There's still the ingenuity of the Coen Brothers' irony, but they rely heavily on one of the most chilling portrayals of any villain I can think of in cinematic history. This movie is also the most violent of any I've seen this year. (Considering I've seen '3:10 to Yuma' and 'Eastern Promises' among them, that's saying a lot.)

For all it's innovation and startling violence, 'No Country for Old Men' has to be one of the tensest and best movies woven together all year.

(The special features are worthwhile. I must note that if you're looking for a definite commentary for the ending, you'll need to look elsewhere [although they certainly explain the theme well which is at least half of the framed ending.] "Working with the Coens" goes for less than eight minutes. Commentary on the movie is worthwhile and clocks in at about 23:00. There's also a third worthy section that is approximately seven minutes long. For me I couldn't get enough. If you don't mind going behind the curtain to see the secrets of the magic show, then the extras are quite worthwhile. [Within Amazon Miles Moore's commentary "Yes, Virginia, There's a Plot Resolution in 'No Country for Old Men'" illuminated a lot for me. Some other discussions suffice.] I think Cormac McCarthy wanted people to have the theme and concepts stuck in their heads rather than a neat resolution. Real life is often like that. I keep thinking of real life serial killers: Son of Sam and The Zodiac Killer. Justice catches up to them, but some things in life are elusive--just like the movie. I life seeing inside Sherrif Bell's head at the end. "You don't know what He (God) thinks," says Bell's friend, played by Barry Corbin. This character is essential for assuaging Bell from stepping into the chasms of pride and despair. I think there's hope "kindled" in Bell's mind at the end, but you can buy this film and watch it over and over again and decide for yourself.)

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More No Country for Old Men reviews
review by . March 26, 2008
Wow. Great movie. I saw this movie at the Rialto in Raleigh, NC, which is worth a trip in itself as an old school "movie palace". The lobby is about the size of my kitchen at home, just enough room for a concession stand, then double doors open directly into the big theatre with a concrete floor sloping down to the big screen on a real stage. Stepping through those double doors is a 50-year step backwards, but the place looks like it has been recently renovated as the floor is clean, the seats are …
review by . May 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN       I don't know about you but I have always been a huge fan of the Coen Brothers Joel and Ethan, I have liked every film the two have put together. This is no exception and is just another classic in a long list of classics, both theatrically and on DVD this is a brilliant film. I can honestly say that a lot of the time I do not agree with the winners or even the nominees chosen by the Academy for the Oscar but they got it right …
Quick Tip by . December 28, 2010
"The Terminator" in Texas...    Somehow I have to make 50 characters here.
review by . July 11, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Josh Brolin as Lewllon Moss
Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is a good sheriff.  He can put together a crime scene and get in touch with who he needs to.  Never gets hurt and does a good job keeping the peace.  One day though an ugly and violent crime is enough to put him out to pasture.  It was enough to make him realize how just like all those disgusting crimes across the country he only read about in newspapers, has finally come home to West Texas.  Towards the end of his tenure as Sheriff, an old friend of …
Quick Tip by . June 08, 2010
CRAZY but so incredibly good. Watched it in my criminology class.
review by . September 06, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carry one; that's the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn't wear one up in Camanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never …
Quick Tip by . October 31, 2009
Poor Texas man runs off with drug money he finds at a crime scene only to have a bounty hunter on his tail and a sheriff in between. Great.
review by . May 08, 2009
The story opens in the desolate west Texas countryside, as Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad and makes off with a suitcase full of money. He figures he'll be followed and he's right; Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a ruthless and patient killer, is after him. Chigurh is, in turn, being tracked by the local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones), a good ol' country boy who's amazed at how violent criminals have become lately.     I'd heard this was a bloody guy-movie …
review by . September 09, 2008
(to the tune of El Paso by Marty Robbins)     Close by the West Texas town of El Paso   There was a drug deal that went very wrong   Llewellyn, he fled with a bag full of money   Came back to the scene, but he took far too long     Blacker than night was the heart of the Chigurh   Wicked and evil and killing for fun   He soon went after Llewellyn's new treasure   Armed with a captive bolt cow stunning …
review by . December 09, 2008
I honestly thought this movie was going to be  alot different that what it was....poor guy couldn't catch a break :)   I was a bit disappointment by the movie.  I didn't except it to end the way it did and just got a bad feeling through the whole movie that it probably wasn't worth all he had to go through.  I've also seen better acting from Tommy Lee Jones, really in my opinion the worst I've seen.
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #35
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this movie


The Coen brothers make their finest thriller sinceFargowith a restrained adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel. Not that there aren't moments of intense violence, butNo Country for Old Menis their quietest, most existential film yet. In this modern-day Western, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a Vietnam vet who could use a break. One morning while hunting antelope, he spies several trucks surrounded by dead bodies (both human and canine). In examining the site, he finds a case filled with $2 million. Moss takes it with him, tells his wife (Kelly Macdonald) he's going away for awhile, and hits the road until he can determine his next move. On the way from El Paso to Mexico, he discovers he's being followed by ex-special ops agent Chigurh (an eerily calm Javier Bardem). Chigurh's weapon of choice is a cattle gun, and he uses it on everyone who gets in his way--or loses a coin toss (as far as he's concerned, bad luck is grounds for death). Just as Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a World War II vet, is on Moss's trail, Chigurh's former colleague, Wells (Woody Harrelson), is on his. For most of the movie, Moss remains one step ahead of his nemesis. Both men are clever and resourceful--except Moss has a conscience, Chigurh does not (he is, as McCarthy puts it, "a prophet of destruction"). At times, the film plays like an old horror movie, with Chigurh as its lumbering Frankenstein monster. Like the taciturn terminator,No Country for Old ...
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Movies, Drama Movies, Action Movies, Dramas, Coen Brothers, Coen Brothers Movies, Woody Harrelson Movies, Javier Bardem Movies, Tommy Lee Jones Movies, Ethan Coen Movies, Josh Brolin Movies, Joel Coen Movies


Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure
Release Date: 2007, November 9, 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Runtime: 2hrs 2min
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