Review of “No Country for Old Men” (2007) R 122min
November 25th, 2007 by Maxim · 8 Comments · 5,542 Views
Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, this is the best chase movie ever!
The plot: a hunter named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) walks on the aftermath of a drug deal gone bad in the middle of the desert somewhere in Texas and discovers suitcase with two million dollars. He tries to disappear with the money but all sorts of people are on his trail, including a psychopathic killer.
The good: This movie is full of suspense and doesn’t let go till the end. This is a very dark chase movie, and probably the best part of it is the realism of the chase – not some crazy Hollywood flick with car getaways and jumping from one roof to another. The most realistic thing about this chase is that it’s very slow. The time stretched so slowly that it creates suspense because everybody knows that bad things are going to happen and no matter how you prolong the chase it is coming to an end and that the destiny is going to catch up with the hero. Adding to the suspense and realism is the music, but not rock’n'roll of the 60s. It’s the sound of the desert wind. The ending is brilliant. Too bad people got so used to linear beginning/ending formula of movies and left the theater in disbelief and even disappointment. But the ending is the whole point of the movie! This is the movie about forces of life itself and as long as life persists so will these forces.
Tommy Lee Jones played Sheriff Ed Tom Bell who was called in to investigate the aftermath of the shootout in the desert. Tommy Lee was great as always. I think he gets better as he ages and he’s so great in the role of the aging man. His character also has been trying to catch the psychopathic killer
Josh Brolin was great. I liked him ever since “Private Eye” TV series, and in The Mod Squad, Hollow Man, Into the West TV series and particularly Grindhouse. But this one was just the best.
The sudden appearance on the screen of none else but Woody Harrelson triggered some laughs in the audience. Yet another Texan. He played the bounty hunter who was also sent after the money. He was good, but I wish someone else was cast in his place: he has some comical aura to him, I guess because he’s played some many comical roles, and also because he played Mickey Knox in “Natural Born Killers”, which was his best role ever and, at least to me, he keeps carrying that strong role’s karma to this day.
But my most favorite character is the bad guy, the psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh played by Javier Bardem. This is not Dr. Hannibal Lector. This is more or less typical psychopath who just loves to kill, and as many other psychopaths he has some code, some set of rules and a philosophy. He is rather considerate of people he kills and, “to be fare”, offers his victims to call a coin toss. He is also after the drug money in the suitcase. On the way he kills a number of people, and the more resistance he encounters from what appears to be a successful gateway by Llewelyn Moss, his killings become more and more gruesome as he unleashes all the evil in him. He never loses his cool. He never stops. And the best part is that he looks like an unemployed rock’n'roll guitarist.
Hmm.. I keep naming actors one by one and telling how great they were in this movie. I guess I should just say that every single performance was just so good, so authentic!
The bad: the life stories of the characters and their philosophy and their dreams – I didn’t care for. The film definitely needed some sort of dialogs or else it would be just another soulless chase movie about money. But the way this particular stories were added into the movie were a bit distracting. Maybe I too was expecting more conventional chase from this movie. This movie was so much more.
The summary: this is one of the best chase movie I have seen. Was the ending weird? No. It was perfectly in line with the movie. Though the story hinges on the chase and money, it is a movie about how different people face death. Javier Bardem’s character is an embodiment of death, a dark angel, an agent of death if you will. The dice is rolled, and some people try to run away from the death and can delay it but not escape it, some of them try to bribe it, some of them get lucky and some take their own life.
** Academy Awards Update (Feb 24, 2008) **
“No Country For Old Men” has just won Best Motion Picture Of The Year, Best Performance By An Actor In The Supporting Role (Javier Bardem). Ethan and Joel Coen had won not one, but two Oscars: Best Writing/Screenplay Based On Material Previously Produced Or Published and Best Achievement In Directing.
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