No Country for Old Men (2007)

Run Time: 2 hr 2 min
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%/86%

No Country for Old Men is a crime drama/thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones (Ed Tom Bell), Javier Bardem (Anton), Josh Brolin (Llewelyn Moss), and Kelly Macdonald (Carla Jean Moss). In this film Llewelyn Moss witnesses a drug deal gone wrong and upon investigating the aftermath he finds a shit ton of drugs and a briefcase filled with money. Llewelyn devises a plan to go back at nightfall to retrieve the briefcase full of money and while at first it seemed like he would walk away with it unnoticed; his efforts are challenged by some very angry men. Llewelyn narrowly escapes this near death experience, but he unknowingly put himself and his family right in the path of the very ruthless Anton Chigurh. Llewelyn leaves town with the money and plans to send for his wife once he’s settled, however Anton has other plans and will not rest until what belongs to him is returned. No Country for Old Men won 4 Academy Awards: Best Motion Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Achievement in Directing, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. With all these awards one has to ask, was this movie deserving of all the accolades or was it an over-hyped, underwhelming, average film?

The Good:

Javier Bardem as Anton is absolutely amazing! The opening scene with Anton in the police station is down right bone chilling. You can tell instantly that for this man killing is not something he has an issue with and in fact appears to find satisfaction in taking a life. There were several scenes in the film where Anton kills someone just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time or if the person has not necessarily wronged him, he will let “fate” decide if the person will live or die by flipping a coin. Anton is the real boogeyman and appears to be as invincible as The Terminator. At one point it seems like Anton may simply be a hitman for a drug cartel but after a while you realize he has no alliance to anyone but himself and he will kill anyone/anything that gets in his way. Anton has no redeeming qualities. There are no moments where you see humanity in him and when a character is written in this manner, it takes the right actor to portray them and Javier Bardem was perfect in this role.

This film is more than just what the plot may suggest and for me there was a strong message of how at the end of the day humans are merely another animal species and given the right circumstances we can all play the role of predator and prey. In the opening scene Llewelyn is out in the desert hunting deer and in that moment he is hunting down prey and he has all the control. Then later in the film, he becomes Anton’s prey and has to outrun a much stronger, smarter, stealthier predator. There are so many scenes and moments in this film where the smallest little detail comes right back around and plays out this predator/prey role reversal that it seems clear to me that this was the intent of the writer. For example, in the first scene with Llewelyn hunting the deer, he shoots one but it runs away, so he uses his pitbull to try and sniff out the injured deer. Then later, Llewelyn is being chased (hunted) by two men and he is shot but runs away and while attempting to flee he gets chased by a pitbull owned by… you guessed it… the two men hunting him. In my first viewing of this film I did not catch those little things but after a second viewing I took the the time to really pay attention to these details and it elevated this film even more.

Another thing I enjoyed about this film is the fact that the Cohen brothers did not rely on music to build suspense but instead used the performances of the actors and the content of the script to create the tone. Too many times I see a film that relies so heavily on music that it is a shock to the senses to watch a scene where music is not being played. In this movie I only heard music maybe twice and it was so faint that I questioned if I was actually hearing music or it was just the noise of machines in the background. Using nature as the soundtrack of the movie and not random music selections added a level of realism that reminded me a lot of The Revenant. I appreciated the authenticity in this decision and cannot imagine what this movie would have looked like with “Welcome to the Jungle” jamming in the background.

The Bad:

Although I absolutely love this film, I am often turned off by the one note acting ability of Woody Harrelson. I enjoy him in lighthearted films but in something this gritty and raw he just stuck out like a sore thumb. I had the same feeling about Tommy Lee Jones’ performance and it’s not to say that this gentlemen are not good actors but they are just the same person in most of their movies and it is disappointing.

I also had a bit of an issue with the final scene of the movie. Without giving spoilers, I’ll just say that a character gives a monologue and it took me 3 times to watch it and decide that the point of this final scene is to bring home the message of “we live to die”. I could be completely wrong about this meaning but at least I came up with some sort of reason for this pointless (at least in my mind) scene.

Overall Rating:

No Country for Old Men deserved every Oscar awarded to it. This film is gritty and raw and from the opening scene gives us nothing but tension and suspense done at a superior level. Javier Bardem made me long for another film with Anton as the lead character because I need to see more of this maniac in action. While this movie is very long, this Sista Gurl highly recommends you make time to watch this amazing film and see if you can catch all the many different moments of foreshadowing throughout the film and take a shot every time you spot one!


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