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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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One of the best of 2007!! Brutal, brilliant and unrelenting!!

  • Nov 23, 2007
  • by
Rating:
+5
I'm a HUGE fan of the Coen Brothers. Even some of their less successful movies always leave me delighted because they dare play around with tone and audience expectations. Who but this brotherly team would attempt a movie like THE LADYKILLERS or MAN WHO WASN'T THERE? But in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, they return to their true forte...the crime thriller.

Although my personal favorite is RAISING ARIZONA...it is probably true that in decades from now the Coens will be best remembered and admired for BLOOD SIMPLE, FARGO, MILLER'S CROSSING and now their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's bleak Southwest thriller.

NO COUNTRY...tells the story of how one simple man (Josh Brolin), out on a hunting trip somewhere in the vast emptiness of west Texas, stumbles across the scene of a drug deal gone bad. Empty pickup trucks, dead men everywhere, and one lone survivor. This dying man asks for water (which Brolin doesn't have) and then Brolin finds a big bag full of about $2 million. He takes the money, not really thinking about the consequences. We find that he lives in a single wide mobile home with his attractive but too compliant wife.

We think Brolin is a simple and probably heartless man...but when he decides he needs to go back and give that dying man some water...his moment of kindness is his undoing. He is discovered and soon his is identified. Now he's being hunted by the authorities, the drug dealers and most awfully, he's being chased by Anton Chugurh (Javier Bardem), who could be one of the most malevolent serial killers / hitmen in movie history.

Brolin sends his family into hiding and goes on the run himself. He hops from one rundown hotel room to another, leaving a trail of death and violence following him. And drawing ever closer is Bardem...calm, steady and absolutely convinced that he will recover the money and kill the man who took it.

Trying to sort everything out is Tommy Lee Jones as the local sheriff, who feels that not only is he in over his head (although we see very early on that he has a native instinct and craftiness for his work that actually make s him a pretty brilliant investigator)...but he feels that society itself has moved on without him. The scenes of violence he encounters are beyond anything he's experienced. He is afraid, but worse than that, he is spiritually shaken.

These three men, and a host of supporting characters (including a well-cast Woody Harrelson) chase each other around...and just the chase itself would make an entertaining film. But what we have here is a film that makes us smell the desperation, feel the emptiness and loneliness of the landscape AND the people who live there. This is a brutal and non-compromising film.

It's so great because it is splendidly entertaining...and yet it fills you with a tension that goes beyond the simple plot developments. In a way, we begin to feel about the events much the same way that Tommy Lee Jones feels. We are invited into his inner turmoil...and we feel it. And as always, the Coens are utter masters of tone. They know exactly how funny they want humorous scenes to be and exactly how to turn tension up and down. Then just up and up and up.

It is a VERY well acted film. Bardem will almost certainly be nominated for an Oscar...and he deserves it. What a role! He's a complete success at conveying emptiness. He kills with no pleasure...but he has also made killing his first line of action in almost any situation. I guess he's just learned that this is the best way to solve problems and get people out of the way. Bardem is riveting. It's a complete cliché to say "you can't keep your eyes off him," but I'm comfortable reporting that for me, I couldn't keep my eyes off him. It's a brilliant creation of McCarthy's...interpreted by the Coen Brothers and then brought to amazing life by Bardem.

Brolin gives by far his finest performance. With this performance and his role in AMERICAN GANGSTER, he must now be taken seriously as an actor. Jones is the ONLY actor who could have played his part...he's that good and that iconic. What other actor do we know who should be playing a grizzled Texas lawman in the modern age? Robert Duvall perhaps? Other than that, the list only includes Jones.

I must warn you...you almost certainly will not like the ending. McCarthy has never felt the need to wrap up his stories in a tidy package (doing so would in fact undo much of what he's trying to say about life) and the Coens have not shied away from his vision. I found the ending a little jolting myself...until I took the time to reflect on what it meant and how it made me feel. Then I understood a little better how brilliant it was.

This is easily one of the most satisfying, most artistically mature and most viscerally entertaining movies of the year! A triumph for the Coen Brothers!

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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
WHAT A GREAT ENDING
      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.
About the reviewer

Ranked #147
I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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Wiki

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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Tags

Movies, Drama Movies, Action Movies, Dramas, Coen Brothers, Coen Brothers Movies, Woody Harrelson Movies, Ethan Coen Movies, Josh Brolin Movies, Joel Coen Movies, Javier Bardem Movies, Tommy Lee Jones Movies

Details

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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