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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 Jay Seaver

"Does it all well."
5 stars

Ah, the suitcase full of money. It's pure temptation, opportunity without responsibility, so long as you can get away with it. Of course, as anyone who has ever seen a movie will tell you, it's almost impossible to do that. Hundreds of movies have likely been made based on the premise of a man finding one but having a hard time spending it before someone else finds them; "No Country for Old Men" is one of the best.

Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) finds the suitcase while out hunting for game; it's at the site of a drug deal that has gone wrong and left everyone on both sides dead. Looking for him is Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a sociopath whose weapon of choice is the cattle gun, a compressed air tank that makes the victim appear to have been shot by an invisible bullet. Cautiously tracking down both is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a veteran lawman who finds he doesn't like where the chase is leading him.

There are complications to the plot, of course - the almost-legitimate by comparison mob hires another man (Woody Harrelson) to track down Moss and Chigurh, mostly with the intent of stopping Chigurh before his rampage brings every cop in Texas onto their heads, and he's not the only extra factor in the chase. The title of the film refers not to the main cat and mouse game but to Sheriff Bell, who finds himself too disturbed and repulsed by the sort of crime he's seeing in 1980 to be able to combat it effectively. This complexity makes No Country a rich film that gives the audience plenty to chew on afterward, when it certainly could have just been a generic chase movie.

But make no mistake - this is, at its heart, a chase movie, perfectly executed. Moss is a wily Vietnam vet whom we first see making an attempt to live off the land, and he's able to transplant that survival instinct to progressively more urban settings. He was probably recon in the army while Chigurh is a tank, at least in temperament. He crashes through Texas without much in the way of finesse, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. There are several great set pieces as Chigurh and the other pursuers close in on Moss, and the Coen brothers have almost perfect judgment on when to use the threat of violence and when to follow through in bloody fashion.

The Coens' films are almost always originals, but adapting Cormac McCarthy's novel seems to bring a bit of a change to their approach. They've told plenty of crime stories in their career, but they've always had a certain awareness of how unlikely or ridiculous their characters and situations are. If that's the case here, they're not showing it; maybe they feel it wouldn't be proper to treat someone else's creations the way they treat their own. They still make something that is identifiably theirs, but even if it is one of their most precisely crafted films, there's no distancing feeling that they know how clever they are.

Even Chigurh, the character it would be easiest to treat as a bit of a joke, is played perfectly straight. Javier Bardem plays the killer as absolutely relentless; he never seems relaxed (the limp makes sure you we this is taking some effort), but he's always just short of keyed up enough to make any kind of mistake. He's a man of few words, but those words mark him as a sociopath with an all-purpose chip on his shoulder. Josh Brolin, on the other hand, does look nervous as Moss, tough not quite afraid. We always get the sense that Moss knows what he's capable of, and knows that Chigurh is right on the border of what he can handle. He and the Coens let us be a little unsure about Moss, who certainly doesn't seem to be the nicest guy in the world. Tommy Lee Jones, on the other hand, does make us comfortable as Bell. Even when he's expressing doubt, it's somewhat reassuring, because that's what weathered-looking sheriffs are supposed to do.

There are a lot of elements to "No Country" that play as familiar, and even the combination of elements (guy with bag of money + relentless killer + lawman who wishes things were as simple as they were in the old days) has probably been done a lot. It's seldom been handled nearly as well as this, though - even the small parts, like Kelly Macdonald's portrayal of Llewelyn's wife who really can't comprehend what's going on, are note-perfect.

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originally posted: 01/23/08 10:48:03
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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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