Action / Drama
No Country for Old Men
Distributed By: Miramax Films
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When No Country for Old Men first came out, it was met with rave reviews and many an award nomination. I watched the previews and wondered what it was about. Not one preview really told me what No Country for Old Men’s storyline was. I knew it was a Coen Brothers film and I knew that the Coen Brothers were famous for their black comedies. However, something about the numerous clips I had seen of the film told me that this was no comedy. A couple of friends had recommended the film to me, but when a family member brought it over the house to watch, I had mixed feelings. Was I really going to enjoy this film I knew nothing about?
No Country for Old Men begins with a voice over by Tommy Lee Jones in which he describes how and why he became a sheriff. He alludes to how different things have become since he became sheriff. This is the perfect set up for the main theme of the movie. Llewelyn Moss, a down on his luck Vietnam veteran, is hunting when he comes upon a grizzly scene – the scene of a drug deal gone sour. Moss discovers that the man who attempted to double-cross the dealers didn’t get far, suffering a fatal gunshot wound himself. Lying beside the man is a suitcase containing two million dollars. Right about now, Moss believes his luck is about to change.
Unfortunately, someone else has been hired to retrieve this money – a sociopathic hitman named Anton Chigurh. This man will stop at nothing to get the money back and anyone standing in his way is likely to find his/herself dead. Even if you are not standing in his way, Anton will probably kill you anyway on principle…his principle and he’ll have a philosophical reason for it. Anton is an innovative hitman. He uses rather unconventional means to get the job done.
While Anton and a band of rogue Mexican drug dealers are chasing after Llewelyn Moss for their money, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is pondering the circumstances in which he finds himself and the curious rash of murders occurring in his town. It is this very case that causes Sheriff Bell to take a step back and re-evaluate his place in law enforcement in a world that has changed so drastically over the years.
This, in fact, is what the whole movie is about. While you were distracted by the Llewelyn Moss/Anton Chigurh adventure, you never realized that this whole movie was about an old-school sheriff pondering his worth in a new wave crime era. Mind you, it may have been easy for some movie-goers to miss the point. After all, Sheriff Bell only appears in roughly eight or nine scenes throughout the whole film, but the fact that he begins and ends the film has to tell you something. It’s a very poignant lesson learned and the reasoning for the title – No Country for Old Men – get it?
Of course, many people are distracted by the Llewelyn Moss/ Anton Chigurh adventure. Why? Because it’s so damn interesting! The fact that Moss is able to outsmart Chigurh, someone who is never known to miss his mark, is incredible. You find yourself wondering how this guy does it. You also find yourself rooting for both Moss and Chigurh. Yes, I said you find yourself rooting for the bad guy – after all, he is just so inventive in his killing methods. Besides, he delivers such great dialogue.
After seeing this film, I completely understand why this movie won so many awards, including an Oscar for Best Motion Picture. Javier Bardem deserves his Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for his portrayal of Anton Chigurh. His dialogue delivery is flawless making it easy to believe that he is a sociopathic killer with a very special life plan. I haven’t enjoyed Josh Brolin’s acting in some time, but as Llewelyn Moss, Brolin finally found an interesting character worth rooting for. Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t have a very big role in this movie as Sheriff Bell, but since the movie is centered around him, all he had to do was pack a dramatic punch in every scene he was featured in. Tommy Lee Jones is expressive enough that we can feel the pain of the dedicated lawman who finally realizes that his time is past.
My only complaint about this film is the anticlimactic ending to one of the main characters’ storyline. I can’t quite explain what I mean – to give details would completely give away the ending of the movie – but I have yet to find one person who doesn’t agree with me on this note.
Bravo to the Coen Brothers for such a witty screenplay that mixed a bit of dark comedy in there to lighten up intense scenes at just the right moments. I had seen Fargo and could take it or leave it, but with No Country for Old Men, the Coen Brothers have outdone themselves. I now find myself lining up along with my friends, family members and critics all around singing the praises of No Country for Old Men. Action film aficionados will love it, while those thinkers out there will get a kick trying to figure out the whole philosophy behind the film.