Movie Review: No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men
Year Released: 2007
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem
Distributed by: Paramount Vantage

Simply put, No Country for Old Men is a bloody good movie. I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘masterpiece’ or monument, it’s good, but it’s not exactly fantastic. Brothers Joel and Ethan have kind of built their film careers off some pretty unique, quirky and always charismatic characters. Given the material, I think they did a commendable job, but really they lose points because they didn’t really take any risks.

No Country smartly starts off on a slow and steady foot, with all narration done by the aged Sheriff Ed Tom Bell played by Tommy Lee Jones. Each scene reluctantly leads to the next, and each one seems to grip you tighter and tighter into this world full of violence, hitmen and choices from everyday people. As the narration serves, you slowly learn the guilt and moral aptitude of Jones’ weathered sheriff is meant to counterbalance the ultra violence of professional hitman Anton Chigurh (Scary-as-shit Javier Bardem). And while we’re on that topic, let’s illuminate a little on Bardem. Seriously: he creeped the hell out of me, I’m sure if a one time meeting with Chigurh doesn’t kill you, it’ll put you in the trauma ward. It’s that quiet intensity, that broiling, seething, almost soft spoken killer that lurks underneath that really gets you. Even the poster for the movie shows Bardem’s eyes, warily watching you, seeing you, figuring out how to get you, should you become locked in his crosshairs. And isn’t that the scariest part? Not knowing?

Anyhow, the Coen’s head back to the Texas landscape in their newest story of a hunter, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbling across a satchel of drug money, becomes pursued by the homicidal and ultimate badass Chigurh, all the while Sheriff Bell tries to make sense of it all before someone else ends up dead. That’s really the crux of the story, but the genius in the story telling is how they made each character interact with each other.

Given the three main characters, they were destined to meet. However, it never happens – which is a good thing. Not once do the characters share any sort of screen time, and that in turn builds all the tension necessary. While Chigurh is walking around with is silenced ultimate bad ass shotgun, aiming for Llewelyn’s head, it’s done with clever shadows, plus it probably helped that it the scene happened in the dead of the night.

Tommy Lee Jones’ performance can’t really be called main actor type stuff, mainly because I saw him as more of a supporting character to the struggle of the hunter and psycho hitman. His narration does serve a greater purpose in putting all the screen executions and good, well,.. Intentions in perspective. I’m just a little more upset he didn’t really do anything, other than be the lazy sheriff and let the FBI figure out the hard stuff. Hey, that’s just me – the way the role was written, he was acting exactly in character. So sue me for making a few comments.

Plus, I realize that all the Coen’s characters, in any Coen movie, can simply be labelled things like ‘psycho guy’, ‘dude’ and or if possible ‘guy with crazy accent’. And from the looks of things, some characters can have more than one trait to their name. No Country might not be as quotable as the super-fun Big Lebowski, or as quirky as…let’s face it; all their movies are damn quirky. But the seriousness level gets taken up a notch from Fargo, and the screen time isn’t wasted – not a bit. It’s certainly good, but it’s not must-see material.

6.5 out of 10

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