No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brothers return to the crime drama with No Country for Old Men, a suspenseful murder-chase story set in Texas in the 1980s.

A stoic Texan named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is hunting when he spies a number of jeeps in the middle of nowhere. Closer inspection reveals a bloody scene -- several dead Mexicans and pitbulls, apparently shot in a drug dispiute -- along with a massive amount of cocaine and $2 million in a satchel. Llewelyn takes the satchel of money, hiding it in his trailer and telling his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) nothing about what he saw. Unfortunately, a trip back to the scene of the crime exposes Llewelyn to the bad guys, who pursue him. The deadliest and most relentless in Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a quiet, focused psychopath whose weapon of choice is a pressurized air gun he carries around quite freely. Chigurh is also sought by Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a world-weary law enforcement official who's after Chigurh even before learning about the massacre; and Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), hired by the folks who wanted to sell the drugs initially.

Much like the movie A Simple Plan, No Country for Old Men is about a seemingly sinple act that soon spirals out of control. LLwelyn first sees the money as a chance for him and his wife to retire, but soon he's sending her to relatives and jumping at every strange car outside his new hotel room and every footsteps outside his door. There are also parallels between Llewelyn and Anton: Both men are willing to fight and kill for what they believe in -- Llewelyn for his wife, Anton for his twisted principles (such as letting someone live or die based on a coin toss) -- and think they're unstoppable in their quests. Tommy Lee Jones' sheriff is almost an innocent bystander, someone with the power of the law yet feeling like a bystander unable to stop or slow the carnage happening around him.

Joel and Ethan Coen bring a measured, steady pace to their movie that creates an air of realism (no wacky characters like in Fargo or The Big Lebowski) and generate a degree of suspense that becomes almost unbearable. The acting is first rate, with special credit for Bardem for making his killer so chilling, and the final payoff will leave you thinking. If you can handle the violence here, No Country for Old Men is an experience at the movies you won't soon forget.

Overall grade: A-

Reviewed by James Lynch

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