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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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Finely Filmed Dark Parable of Our Times

  • Feb 22, 2008
Before even watching the movie, one should take into account that on the surface, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN should be a good movie. The film is based upon a novel by Cormac McCarthy. It's a Coen brothers' picture, meaning that Joel and Ethan Coen wrote, directed, edited, and co-produced the picture. The cast is composed of mostly talented, though underrated actors, including Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones. I realize that many times movies with similar credentials have been complete flops. Thankfully, that isn't the case with NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

The Coens return to the type of filmmaking, like that of BLOOD SIMPLE and FARGO, that gave them a following. The film revolves around three very distinct and different characters. First there is Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) an everyman slacker. Despite his lack of ambition, his wife loves him and they have a good relationship. Llewellyn stumbles upon what appears to have been a shootout over a drug deal gone bad amidst a circle of vehicles in the back country. Slaughtered bodies lie scattered across the field. Llewellyn locates the apparent "survivor" of the massacre who lies dead beneath a tree along with a briefcase full of money. Llewellyn gives in to the temptation and takes the money, thereby placing himself on the top of the list of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a murderous psychopath who sometimes decides the fate of his victims with the flip of a coin.

Chigurh is the second focal character in the film. Chigurh is another symbolic character that seems to represent everything that has gone wrong with the U.S. He is a murderer and stops at nothing to get his way. Yet, there is an almost twisted logic to some of his actions. He never contradicts the coin he carries--it is his lord. He also never breaks a promise; a trait that would be a good thing in most people, but a trait that becomes horrifying in psychopathic murderer. Chigurh chases Llewellyn across the country with a ruthless abandon. Along the way, Chigurh settles the score with other men that have crossed his path before.

The final focal character is sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). Bell is on the verge of retirement. His father was a lawman as was his father before him. The world has changed dramatically since Bell was a young officer. Violent crime and illegal drugs coming across the border are common occurrences. Bell feels that he is the last of dying breed; the last of an old tradition. He has the nose of a detective and is chasing Chigurh and trying to catch the demon before he causes anymore violence, but he always seems to be just one step behind. He doesn't realize it at the time, but his hunt to capture Chigurh is the last of his career before he retires to live in a place that truly is "no country for old men."

I really enjoyed NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. The movie is serious, but has comical moments that relieve the tension. The cinematography and settings are almost majestic in their simplicity and barrenness. The acting is top of the line and Bardem, Brolin, and Jones each give great performances. Even though there are no car chases, super powers, sword fights, or pirates, the film kept me on the edge of my seat as I tried to guess what was going to happen next, root for Llewellyn Moss to escape, and hope that Ed Tom Bell would meet Chigurh in a final showdown.

I realize that even though I liked the film, there are many who won't. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is a dark and depressing picture. It offers no solace, no comfort, very little joy, and paints a picture of the future as being almost hopeless. It also doesn't have a nice, tight ending. I liked the film as a work of film, but when I left the theatre after seeing the movie for the first time, I was so saddened by what I had seen that I cried for a few minutes in my car. Very few dark films have touched me like that. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is without a doubt one of the best movies of 2007. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys well-crafted movies.

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More No Country for Old Men reviews
review by . May 02, 2011
This movie is probably the Coens at the height of their moviemaking prowess, even though this isn't my favourite overall of their movies. That title still belongs to The Big Lebowski. However, I do think this is the best Coen drama, girded by exceptionally strong performances and a simple but enthralling premise. That guided by the Coen brothers' steady directing makes No Country For Old Men a definite must-see and a fitting entry into their collection. It's also very worthy of winning …
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 …
review by . July 01, 2011
While it's very easy to trace comparisons between this film and prior Coen projects, such an exercise seems almost trivial when one considers that this story was adapted from one of Cormac McCarthy's most accessible novels. It's comforting to note that the Coens have found a story compatible with their usual trademarks: dialogue characterized by a regional vernacular, eccentrics who both voice and embody the story's themes and a measured pace interjected by bizarre scenes of intense …
Quick Tip by . February 21, 2011
This movie takes patience, and requires interpreting. If you're not interested in having to think through what the movie is trying to say, it will just seem like one damn thing after another.
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.
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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, Tommy Lee Jones Movies, Ethan Coen Movies, Josh Brolin Movies, Joel Coen Movies, Javier Bardem 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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