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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 16.13%
Average: 4.03%
Pretty Bad: 3.23%
Total Crap: 5.65%

7 reviews, 82 user ratings

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No Country for Old Men
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by brianorndorf

"One of the best thrillers of the year"
5 stars

Joel and Ethan Coen have spent their career crafting stylish, visceral tales of crime, fixated on the aftermath of bad decisions. “No Country for Old Men” is a near-perfect summation of that pursuit; a whip-smart, fingernail-chewing creation that crackles with tension and is pocked with thrilling incarnations of evil. It makes the standard-issue nightmare seem like a tropical vacation.

Out hunting in Texas, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a drug deal gone south, leaving behind a truckload of heroin and two million dollars in a black case. Taking the money, Moss hits the road, soon realizing a dangerous sociopathic hit man named Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is on his trail, mercilessly slaughtering anything that stands between him and retrieving the money. One step carefully behind is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a wizened law enforcement officer hoping to protect Moss, yet weary of the changing face of crime, fearing his place in the order of good vs. evil has drawn to a close.

Adapting Cormac McCarthy’s best-seller to the screen, the Coens have miraculously retained the novel’s dense plotting, yet still managed to mold a volatile thriller out of the material. They’ve created a wonderfully severe, breathless journey, tracking Moss as he tries to locate a safe haven and enjoy his acquired loot, at the same time, completely unable to shake the unstoppable Chigurh and his peculiar instruments of death.

“Country” is a film of vast detail, using the Coens’ gift for visual mastery to bring the audience in closer to the hunt. It starts with the sparse Texas flatlands; an expansive wasteland where crime is only a blip on the horizon. Gorgeously shot by Roger Deakins, the arid topography serves as a dominant backdrop of indifference, shrouding the characters in sun-drenched, sweaty misery.

That misery is a potent mixture served up by the Coens, staging a relentless chase movie that’s nearly silent in execution, perhaps better scored with the viewer’s anxious fluttering heartbeat than any stringed accompaniment. Observing three interwoven stories, the film never lags in tension, tending to Moss’s panic, Chigurh’s fixations, and Bell’s investigation with enthralling spirit, leading to exceptional scenes of conflict and violence as these men desperately fight to achieve their goals. It’s a chase movie of monumental intellect as well, with specific attention paid to the psychological reach of the danger, and how the survival instinct of the characters kicks in and pushes them to keep running no matter how ominous the consequences appear.

The Coens also play with tart Texan dialogue, retaining McCarthy’s literary design, while shaping it to fit a more staccato big screen beat. It’s a marvelous display of screenwriting; the Coens boiling slowly to a rhythm, while the actors relish every last chance to deliver the golden dialogue.

With such a marvelous cast, it’s impossible to single out any particular piece of acting that rises above the others. However, Bardem’s work is worth noting if only because it’s such a nutso interpretation of malevolence: a singular force of pain who has little patience for small town social rituals and delights in the potential games of chance offered. Armed with a “cattlegun” compressed air cannon, Chigurh is nothing short of the Angel of Death, causally tracking Moss’s movements while removing any potential witness with steel-faced menace, glaring out from under a strange pageboy haircut. Brolin finds a sublime survival pulse while Jones gets to play amazement, but Bardem…it’s a special strand of madness he’s tuned into, molding a screen villain of authentic worry and conviction.

The lone stumbling block is presented in the final 15 minutes, which serve a wonderful purpose, but derail the tension. Switching from Moss’s story to a graceful elegy on men who have outlived their purpose, the Coens slash the ankles of their creation, dropping in last-minute mediations and psychological settling that stops their red-hot thriller cold. The conclusion serves a greater purpose for sure, finding closure and lament for certain characters, but the swerve in tone is disorientating; too great for the movie to support, softening the death blow the story doesn’t require, but this film deserved.

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originally posted: 11/09/07 18:50:03
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
5/21/15 stanley welles muscular, exact and thrilling 5 stars
12/08/10 Dennis Excellent film; you have to view it more than once. 5 stars
11/12/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess A decent flick, but doesn't compare to the Coehn bros. older films 3 stars
6/11/10 Flathead King A very entertaining film. 5 stars
6/01/10 User Name Once you open Pandora's Box, there's no stopping what comes spilling out. 4 stars
3/05/10 dennis engelke kept me one the edge 5 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* You have to watch it 3 times to finally say...ok this movie isnt that bad 4 stars
5/11/09 R Lan Repeating what everybody was said. A very good movie that was hurt by its ending. 4 stars
5/06/09 MP Bartley A tightly wound, precisely measured and overwhelmingly cruel masterpiece. 5 stars
3/26/09 mariah great movie but wasnt best movie of '07... 5 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. chigurh was one of the weirdest movie killers ever. 5 stars
12/07/08 TheViper Stunning achievement, have watched it over and over. 5 stars
11/24/08 brian Has everything but a satisfying resolution. 5 stars
9/22/08 Charles Tatum Well done, but too many "Coenisms" 4 stars
9/17/08 Stu Amazing film with one of the BEST ENDINGS ever. Wildly entertaining and deeply haunting 5 stars
8/18/08 jonathantstorm ending sucked 1 stars
8/11/08 Jon G Definition of a Man Flick 5 stars
8/03/08 Saravanan Srinivasan Yet another brilliant stuff from Coehn Bro.Fantastic acting by Javier Bardem &Josh Brolin 4 stars
7/23/08 Ivana Mann That ending makes a Zen riddle look like a first-grade math problem. Absolute poo! 1 stars
7/15/08 Matt I know I'm not going to be popular for saying this...but this is a shower of crap. 1 stars
6/22/08 AnnieG Although not very unique, this film has some good lines and characters. 3 stars
6/12/08 Jayson One of the best. Ever. 5 stars
5/13/08 Yo Mama if that crazy cracker Javier came to my hood i'd pop a cap in his ass!!!!! 5 stars
5/05/08 Phil M. Afficiando Watch the bonus material first especially "Diary of ...". to appreciate the film itself 4 stars
4/28/08 guisada awesome 5 stars
4/14/08 Colleen Cousineau Terrible ending, other then that, a great thriller 5 stars
4/13/08 DG Based on Chaucers - Pardoner's Tale. Chigurh is death 4 stars
4/10/08 ravenmad i tell you, it was javier's hair cut that creeped me most. Awesome film. Intense. 5 stars
3/26/08 Mike Nice thriller, terrible ending, what in the HELL was {that} all about 4 stars
3/25/08 action movie fan no country for action fans-okay story, but too slow 2 stars
3/22/08 Joe Smaltz started out pretty good but ended with out an ending 1 stars
3/20/08 Nick T Riveting though the ending caught me by suprise but it made me think about the events 5 stars
3/19/08 The real ED Ed bob - people like you should have life violently revoked. Call it.. friendo. 5 stars
3/18/08 AD Moss represents Bell's father - 20 years younger than him, get it? 5 stars
3/18/08 RF Great movie. Brillantly Intense and brilliantly acted. Well deserved Oscars. 5 stars
3/17/08 Amit One of the few films that has value, only people with some intelligence can appreciate it 5 stars
3/17/08 Danny I have no idea what happened at the end. Overrated. 3 stars
3/16/08 Julie Total waste of time!!! 1 stars
3/14/08 Mr Hype Good... but the hype is silly, and undeserving to say the least 4 stars
3/13/08 daniel wolfe ending let me down,,,,,,great for 3 / 4 's of movie, but boring ending !!! 4 stars
3/09/08 Freddy A solid, involoving film that seems to lose impetus in the last 20 minutes 4 stars
3/05/08 Louise A well-made and gripping film - such a shame about the weak ending! 4 stars
3/03/08 ladavies The Coen brothers at the Oscars...idiot savants?? Great movie! 5 stars
3/01/08 mormor613 Not good for my blood pressure, but worth it 5 stars
2/18/08 ang Anton Chigurh one of the best villains/Great Movie but ending was crappy! 4 stars
2/12/08 Monday Morning Riveting, but seemed to end early - I missed closure on several plotlines/characters 4 stars
2/11/08 Stefan Great acting but uncanny and towards the end, totally unrealistic plot 3 stars
2/03/08 ad instant classic 5 stars
2/02/08 Quigley A masterfully crafted film. Will go down as an American classic and a Coen Bros masterpiece 5 stars
1/30/08 ronp the ending sucked. left too many doors opened. the rest of movie was powerful 4 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic Brutal and intense, its an enigmatic, metaphysical mindgame 4 stars
1/24/08 Mike O I don't know what the big deal is. 2 stars
1/24/08 synthman Another high water mark from American geniuses 5 stars
1/23/08 mr.mike Fairly weak ending keeps it from a 5 star rating. 4 stars
1/18/08 Buttley Great Film, extremely suspenseful and wonderfully acted. Enjoy your Oscar, Javier. 5 stars
1/13/08 JamieD Starts off masterfull, then limps toward the end and dies. 1 stars
1/06/08 NatalieH I loved everything about this film, the sountrack, Javier Bardem & Tommy Lee Jones acting! 5 stars
1/01/08 hardy campbell I am obsessed with this film, and I am NEVER obsessed with films. 5 stars
12/26/07 Vagile Superb 5 stars
12/26/07 Ed Bob Sucks big harry donky balls 1 stars
12/18/07 Tim O'Donnell Great movie--captures a great book 5 stars
12/14/07 Mike Erickson Suspenseful, Violent, and Funny - How they accomplished this I dont know 5 stars
12/11/07 Shawn Best picture of the year 5 stars
12/09/07 Edward Great - taking my son - it will be talked about years later. 5 stars
12/08/07 orpy Wildly entertaining! I love that bad guy! 4 stars
12/05/07 ES This will be a movie people look back on and think- ok, maybe it wasn't that good after all 3 stars
12/03/07 Bnorm Great movie, wonderful villain and is violent witouth being gratutious. the ending was bad 5 stars
12/02/07 george1039 Everything and I mean everything a movie should be 5 stars
12/02/07 Michael Thoughtful, violent, riveting. Brilliantly acted. 5 stars
12/01/07 Jefenator Joel & Ethan: Quit now - you'll never top it! 5 stars
11/28/07 bucslim The "I don't get it" crowd doesn't get it 5 stars
11/27/07 Patrick Go see this movie, now!!! 5 stars
11/27/07 Ole Man Bourbon A lot of fun to follow these characters. Classic movie. 5 stars
11/26/07 john wow, Mr. Brooks and Hannibal step aside, eh..thoughtful, fun, fine 5 stars
11/25/07 David Vivat Flat and nearly incomprehensible 2 stars
11/25/07 R.W.Welch Neat script and villian. Trails off some towards the end. B+ 4 stars
11/19/07 Sully Javier Bardem=Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, he's that scary 5 stars
11/12/07 DonnyM Instant Classic. Cohen bros hit oil. 5 stars
11/11/07 reddye5 See this film!!!! That's all you need to read. 5 stars
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  09-Nov-2007 (R)
  DVD: 11-Mar-2008



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