No Country For Old Men

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No Country For Old Men
Joel & Ethan Coen 2007

No Country For Old Men sets a new benchmark.

Coen brothers films are beloved the world over, that's a fact. They have a stylish sense of wit, depth and originality that's all their own, making the Coens two of the most respected filmakers around today. Like Woody Allen, David Cronenberg, and the late Stanley Kubrick, they are auteurs whose unique perspective on movie making has resulted in critical praise, cult status, and legions of fans.

In 2003 however, their unstoppable freight train seemed to wobble, as they strayed from the usual template, and delivered the more conventional romantic comedy 'Intolerable Cruelty'. Whilst the film did moderately well at the box office, critics and fans alike weren't so enthusiastic. Their next film, 2004's 'The Ladykillers', a remake of the classic 1955 Ealing comedy, seemed to further compound fears that the Coens were losing their touch. Again it did moderately well, but critical praise wasn't forthcoming, and the freight train seemed in danger of coming completely off the rails.

There's no question that the brothers have taken these lukewarm responses completely on board. With their latest offering 'No Country For Old Men' an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel, they've gone right back to basics. The film is similar in tone to their debut feature 'Blood Simple', in that it's a violent noirish vision of the American underbelly, given almost biblical gravitas.

Josh Brolin plays Llewelyn Moss a Texan Vietnam vet, who whilst hunting in the desert, stumbles upon a Mexican drug deal gone wrong, and a satchel full of cash. Moss takes the money unaware that the devil incarnate, hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is ruthlessly on it's trail. A cat and mouse chase ensues, with Anton leaving a string of bodies behind in his unrelenting pursuit of Moss. Following both men, desperately trying to make sense of the carnage, is sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), the films moral center.

'No Country For Old Men' is essentially a b-movie, indeed on the surface the plot appears to be nothing new, many of the core dynamics feeling reminiscent of other films. The discovery and consequences of taking drug money 'A Simple Plan', and the unstoppable remorseless desert killer 'The Hitcher' (original) spring immediately to mind. But it is the Coen's brilliant casting, their technical prowess, sense of pace, and quality of McCarthy's original material, that puts this head and shoulders above those films.

Once 'No Country For Old Men' gets going (and it doesn't take long) the film doesn't let up. It's incredibly multilayered, working as both a rollercoaster action thriller/horror movie, and social commentary on the escalation of violence in American culture. We are given an inhuman assassin and many violent death scenes, but these are masterfully counterbalanced with Sheriff Bell's philosophical musings, and the stark beauty of the Texan desert.

Deserving of special mention though, is the performance from Javier Bardem, as this is definately his movie. His embodiment of sinister hitman Anton Chigurh is without doubt the most unnerving, depiction of a killer I've ever seen. He manages to inject incredible depth and otherworldliness into the character whilst speaking very little dialogue. Bardem came up with the weird look for Chigurh himself, and it's through his expert use of body language that he manages to unsettle the audience in all of his scenes. Anton Chigurh is Hannibal Lecktor, The Terminator, and pretty much every psycho bogey man you can think of all rolled into one. Plus, you know what? he's scarier than all of them.

It's hard for me to articulate how much I enjoyed 'No Country For Old Men', but I was on the edge of my seat all the way through. It was tense, exciting, frightening, beautiful, thought provoking, everything I look for in a film. The action scenes and performances are of the highest order here, and if you haven't already, then I urge you to see it as soon as possible.

The Coen brothers have not only returned to form with this film, they have surpassed even their own lofty standards.

* If you enjoy my reviews, I will be posting them in my thread 'Reviews from the Future' from now on. Don't forget to check em' out

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Why make a thread like this, just put it in your thread.
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews

Why make a thread like this, just put it in your thread.
Hi Suspect,

yeah you're right, I wasn't thinking straight at the time (too much coffee me thinks). I've asked Sedai to remove my loose review threads, and will just be adding them to my main thread from now on.

Joel and Ethan Cohen brought home the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2007 with NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, a dark and chilling suspense thriller which takes the classic cat and mouse chase genre to an entirely new level.

The film stars Josh Brolin, in his finest performance to date, as a schnook who happens upon the remains of a brutal crime scene, where he finds several dead bodies, a huge shipment of heroine, and a case containing two million dollars and the consequences of his fatalistic decision to take off with the money, prompting his being hunted by a cold-blooded assassin (Jarvier Bardem), who will stop at nothing to get his money back. Throw in a laid back Texan sheriff (played to perfection by Tommy Lee Jones)assigned to the case and you have all the ingredients of a first class thriller.

This gritty and uncompromising drama pulls no punches and offers no easy solutions to a myriad of questions it raises, most notably, "Did this guy really think he could get away with stealing two million dollars?" The film is dark and atmospheric, creating such a height of suspense that there is virtually no music score and you really don't miss it. The suspense created by the story propels the film itself.

Jarvier Bardem won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his bone-chilling performance as Chagur, the deadly and apparently conscience-free killer chasing Brolin. Bardem creates one of the most terrifying cinematic villains ever, whose brutality is only surpassed by his unpredictability.

The Cohens have crafted an intricate story that does peter out toward the end, but for the majority of its running time, will have you literally holding your breath. Not quite up the standards of their classic FARGO, the film is still practically a classic that improves upon repeat viewings and reinforces Joel and Ethan Cohen as filmmakers to be reckoned with.

Finished here. It's been fun.
Yeah this film is amazing. It has such mounting tension and it's so well shot as well. I think this is the Coen Brother's best film honestly. Yeah i think it's better than Millers crossing,big lebowski and fargo.

I though it was good fun but nothing really exceptional. The only Coens film that really impressed me was The Big Lebowski, the others, like Fargo, Raising Arizona and No Country For Old Men, were all very entertaining and cool but not the type of film that I would give perfect or near perfect ratings for.

I though it was good fun but nothing really exceptional. The only Coens film that really impressed me was The Big Lebowski, the others, like Fargo, Raising Arizona and No Country For Old Men, were all very entertaining and cool but not the type of film that I would give perfect or near perfect ratings for.
I think what prevents them from getting perfect ratings for you might be their pessimism and 'coldness' that seems to put some people off. It's especially evident in No Country which is a dark, grim portrayal of evil with no happy endings.

But from a technical perspective, cinematography, sound, performances, I would call a lot of their films masterpieces. No Country, True Grit, Fargo and Miller's Crossing at least.

I would highly recommend Miller's Crossing which along with Fargo and The Big Lebowski, for me, makes up their top 3. But I also have a lot of love for Barton Fink and True Grit, two excellent films.

I love this movie too and as stated it improves upon repeat viewings. Although very violent, it has a certain serenity, whether this has to do with the desert country in which it is mostly set or the calm methodical way that Chigurh tracks his prey, I haven't decided.
ďThe Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.Ē
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

I was thrown off a bit by this one, first time I saw it, in the last third. I liked it a lot but it didn't totally click until second viewing.
#31 on SC's Top 100 Mofos list!!