No Country for Old Men
Title: No Country for Old Men
Author: Best Director - Joel Coen & Ethan Coen; Best Picture (2007)
Llewelyn Moss is a Vietnam vet who could use a break. One morning while hunting, he spies several trucks surrounded by dead bodies. He finds a case filled with $2 million and a truck loaded with heroin. Moss takes it with him, tells his wife he’s going away, and hits the road. On his way to the Mexican border, he discovers he’s being followed by ex-special ops agent Chigurh.
The Coen brothers make their finest thriller since Fargo with a restrained adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel. Not that there aren’t moments of intense violence, but No Country for Old Men is their quietest, most existential film yet. In this modern-day Western, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a Vietnam vet who could use a break. One morning while hunting antelope, he spies several trucks surrounded by dead bodies (both human and canine). In examining the site, he finds a case filled with $2 million. Moss takes it with him, tells his wife (Kelly Macdonald) he’s going away for awhile, and hits the road until he can determine his next move. On the way from El Paso to Mexico, he discovers he’s being followed by ex-special ops agent Chigurh (an eerily calm Javier Bardem). Chigurh’s weapon of choice is a cattle gun, and he uses it on everyone who gets in his way—or loses a coin toss (as far as he’s concerned, bad luck is grounds for death). Just as Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a World War II vet, is on Moss’s trail, Chigurh’s former colleague, Wells (Woody Harrelson), is on his. For most of the movie, Moss remains one step ahead of his nemesis. Both men are clever and resourceful—except Moss has a conscience, Chigurh does not (he is, as McCarthy puts it, “a prophet of destruction”). At times, the film plays like an old horror movie, with Chigurh as its lumbering Frankenstein monster. Like the taciturn terminator, No Country for Old Men doesn’t move quickly, but the tension never dissipates. This minimalist masterwork represents Joel and Ethan Coen and their entire cast, particularly Brolin and Jones, at the peak of their powers. —Kathleen C. Fennessy