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No Country For Old Men (2007)

DVD Cover (Miramax)
Directors:
Ethan Coen Ethan Coen
Joel Coen Joel Coen
Starring:
Tommy Lee Jones Tommy Lee Jones
Javier Bardem Javier Bardem
Josh Brolin Josh Brolin
Woody Harrelson Woody Harrelson
Kelly Macdonald Kelly Macdonald

8.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Crime Thriller, Thriller
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 18, 2007
The film of the year for 2007 is "No Country for Old Men". At least, that seems to be the general consensus regarding the picture. Critics are hailing it as a masterpiece, audiences are flocking to see it in droves and there is little doubt it will not find a Best Picture nomination. The Coen Brothers seem to have another winner on their hands - another picture to add to their long and very illustrious resume of cinematic achievements. I saw "No Country for Old Men" last night and was so excited to see it - I had it built up in my mind and was anxious about getting to see one of the greatest accomplishments of the year. After watching the film, I wish I could say I now know what all the fuss is about. I wish I could say I concur with what everyone else is saying. I can't. While it was watchable and a decent slice of entertainment, it was nothing special and certainly not one of the best films I've seen the Coen Brothers deliver. "No Country for Old Men" has some severe and unmistakable problems that I couldn't ignore. It lacks originality and seems like a rehash of everything I've seen the Coen Brothers do before. In short, it just didn't get it done.

We open with a man named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) getting arrested, strangling a police officer to death and using a pressurized air blaster to kill a man on the side of the road. We know from early on that he's not a man to be messed with. When Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is out hunting in the desert, he stumbles across some trucks, some corpses and about $2 million dollars in a black case. He takes it with him, of course, which sets the story into motion. Chigurh sets his sights on Moss, following him and stalking him, trying to reclaim the cash. Tommy Lee Jones stars as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, the local law enforcement who starts piecing things together, but always finding time for some wise and witty retorts. Woody Harrelson co-stars as Carson Wells, a character with absolutely no point and purpose in the film other than to come in, provide some attempted comedy relief and then meet a ghastly demise at the hands of the film's residence bad ass. The film is basically a cat and mouse game between two intelligent individuals, one a killer and one pretty much your typical white trash loser. In traditional Coen Brothers fashion, along the way, we are introduced to some colorful and eventful characters that help spice up the dialog somewhat. It's the same formula that works in all of their films. I guess that is partly what bothered me so much.

The problems I had with the film primarily stem from a lack of originality. "No Country for Old Men" was pretty much "Fargo" - almost identical. Tommy Lee Jones takes over for the Frances MacDormand role, and their purposes seem to be the same in both films. There's the witty and sometimes daffy deputy, the violent sociopath who just wants to cover himself in blood, the supporting characters who don't seem to have any purpose whatsoever - they're eerily similar. The Woody Harrelson character could have been written out altogether, as could have the Stephen Root and Barry Corbin characters who pop in. And how the hell does Woody Harrelson's character just automatically know to go look for the black case where he does? What draws him there? He must be the luckiest man on the face of the planet. The writing was strong, as it tends to always be in a Coen Brothers film, but we always know that Tommy Lee Jones will say something witty, Josh Brolin will say something white trash and Javier Bardem will say something bad ass. It never feels very fresh and it always seems a little forced. I thought there were so many pointless scenes in the film that they distracted from the ones that really worked, as when Javier Bardem stops in an old gas station and starts doing a verbal dance with the man behind the counter; or when Josh Brolin is waiting in his hotel room and can hear Javier Bardem right outside his door.

There is little doubt that this film will be recognized come awards season,and Javier Bardem keeps getting singled out as the standout performer. I would agree. Bardem does a remarkable job here, playing one of the most violent and interesting psychopaths in recent movie history. He commits to the role fully and pulls it off. He is downright scary. Josh Brolin also does a fine job in a role that doesn't require a whole lot. But, he carries it. Tommy Lee Jones is outstanding, as always, and this seems to be another landmark year for one of the most underrated actors working today. Even though it doesn't have any purpose other than to reinforce the name of the film, his scene with Barry Corbin is so well played and so nice to watch, as is his final scene with Tess Harper. If there were any performances I felt were not up to snuff they were Kelly Macdonald as Josh Brolin's wife - I just don't think she's a very good actress; and Woody Harrelson, who really got on my nerves in about all of his scenes. He just struts along as Woody Harrelson, and nothing more. Maybe I should not have expected anything else, but I did, and it was very disappointing in the long run.

I might be the only one in the world, but I don't think "No Country for Old Men" is nearly as remarkable a picture as everyone else seems to think. I enjoyed it, don't get me wrong. It has some great dialog and some truly phenomenal sequences, but I just can't put it in the same league as films like "Fargo", "The Big Lebowski" and "The Man Who Wasn't There". It felt like maybe the Coen Brothers were trying too hard to re-capture some of what they had with "Blood Simple" and with "Miller's Crossing" and something got lost along the way. Or maybe they were trying too hard to be faithful to the novel by Cormac McCarthy, which is not that great a book to begin with. It almost gave me the same feeling I had watching Brian De Palma's "The Black Dahlia" - almost as if they were parodying themselves to some extent. Their style and tone have become so cemented in the pop culture lexicon that it's hard for the Coen Brothers to make a faithful Coen Brothers movie without it feeling forced. "No Country for Old Men" is an entertaining picture that should be admired for a multitude of reasons, but it's not nearly the masterpiece everyone else says.

6.5/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 12/13/2007, 01:05 AM
I for one, enjoyed it. Javier Bardem was amazing. I've never seen a more convincing psychopath than him. Every time he was on screen, I couldn't help but feel a little bit sorry for the person opposite him. There were some great scenes, most notably the gas station one. Oddly enough, I found this had more suspense in it than your average horror movie. I was almost squirming in my seat as Josh Brolin's character waited in the motel room for Anton. When all is said and done, there were a few points that did disappoint me. Mainly, like Billy Ray said, there was too much of a Fargoish feel to it. Maybe it's because I watched Fargo two days ago, but I couldn't help but compare the films in my mind and see almost too many similarities. A good movie makes you think after leaving the theater. It's been an hour, and I'm still going over some scenes in my head. 9/10
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 01/05/2008, 04:25 AM
Considering you both made the connection, maybe I should start by admitting that I've never seen Fargo. Anyway, aside from some questionable logic here and there, I thought this movie was going damn well. Bardem's performance was amazing, to the point where I realized I was actually holding my breath after more than one of his scenes. In the last twenty minutes or so of the film, the movie abrubtly shifts gears and just kind of ends. Maybe this is a regular Coen trick, but it really killed my enjoyment of the film. I think I'll agree with Billy Ray's 6.5 rating, even if it is for different reasons. Furthermore, my friend as given this movie the following awards:
Best Use Of A Silenced Shotgun (Blowing Holes Through EVERYTHING And Sounding Fucking Wicked Crazy Awesome As Hell)
Best Use Of A Shotgun (Attach A Giant Fucking Silencer)
Best Use Of A Giant Fucking Silencer (At The End Of A Shotgun)
Vash #3: Vash - added 01/11/2008, 12:06 AM
YOU ARE IDIOT.
bluemeanie #4: bluemeanie - added 01/11/2008, 12:32 AM
Whom is an idiot? Since I wrote the review, I assume you mean me. Awwww...you're cute.
danimigra #5: danimigra - added 03/16/2008, 02:23 PM
it was not that good as i thought... anyway Javier Bardem is exelent actor..!!
8/10 for me.
M√∂rderwolf777 #6: Mörderwolf777 - added 08/26/2009, 09:37 PM
I really loved this movie. just as good as fargo I thought. And the ending is similar to fargo in a way.
Danington138 #7: Danington138 - added 09/08/2014, 07:46 PM
The old store clerk scene is so intense.
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