No Country for Old Men Review
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The Coen Brothers love messing with your head. And they do it so very well.

Though they're best known for writing and directing quirky comedies like Raising Arizona, Fargo, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coens’ new crime thriller, No Country for Old Men, is sure to leave you breathless and a little bit confused.

While he’s out hunting one day, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles on a drug deal gone wrong. Among the dead bodies, he finds a satchel filled with millions of dollars—so, thinking it’s his lucky day, Llewelyn takes the money and heads home to his wife, Carla Jean (Kelly MacDonald). It doesn’t take long, though, for Llewelyn to figure out that it’s not going to be that easy. Someone wants the money back—and that someone clearly isn’t afraid to kill to get it. And as ruthless killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) tracks Llewelyn, world-weary Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to get to him before Chigurh does.

  
 
Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men isn’t the quirky comedy that you might expect from the Coens. And it’s not the shoot-‘em-up thriller that you might expect from the trailers. While there’s still plenty of dark humor—not to mention plenty of shootin’ (resulting in a surprising amount of gore and corpses)—No Country is far from a brainless movie. It’s a movie that requires concentration (which could be a challenge if, for instance, you happen to be sitting behind a guy who refuses to turn his phone off)—and it’s one that you’ll ponder all the way home.

The film’s focus is on the three main characters. We see Llewelyn, who just wants a better life—and who’s naive enough to think he can outrun whoever’s after him. We see Chigurh, the ghost-like assassin who always keeps his word. And we see Sheriff Bell, who no longer understands the world he lives in. Each of the three actors gives a solid performance, though Bardem easily stands out as being the creepiest, most mysterious villain to hit the big screen in years.

For the majority of the film, the tension is extremely heavy. No matter where Llewelyn goes, Chigurh is right behind him. And though the story moves along at a slow pace, it doesn’t feel slow. In fact, the pace makes it even more intense—because it allows the tension to build until it’s so heavy that you can’t breathe.

After nearly two hours of intense action and solid tension, you may expect one spectacular, mind-blowing ending—but that’s not what you get. Instead, you get a seriously perplexing conclusion—one that will, inevitably, have moviegoers discussing and debating well after the credits roll.

No Country for Old Men is a random, puzzling film. And if you like neat, straightforward movies, you’ll find it to be positively maddening. There’s no beginning, middle, or end. The questions don’t always have answers. You never know what’s going to happen—and, most of the time, after it happens, you’ll have no idea what it meant. It’s a movie you’ll wrestle with for days. It’s a movie that you need to see more than once—just to try to put the pieces together and figure out what it’s trying to tell you. Fortunately, though, it’s one that you won’t mind seeing more than once—because it’s filled with so much brilliance and so much breath-taking suspense. The characters are solid, as is the dialogue—and the performances are simply spectacular.

Though you can debate this film for days (and I’m sure some people will)—and though I still wish the conclusion had been a little less baffling—I recommend sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying No Country for what it is: a quirky, perplexingly powerful head trip, courtesy of the Coens.


Blu-ray Review:
When the Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning best picture, No Country for Old Men, first came out on DVD and Blu-ray last year, I declared it perfect for home viewing—because you can concentrate on the movie without having to worry about the chatty guy ahead of you in the theater or his ringing cell phone. And if you have a Blu-ray player, it’s even better—because you can get theater quality in the comfort of your own living room.

The original release came with just a few special features, including a fluffy feature on working with the Coens and one called Diary of a Country Sheriff, which takes a more philosophical look at the story. There’s also a making-of feature, which offers a more in-depth look at the film.

In addition to the original features, the new collector’s edition (available on two Blu-ray discs or three DVDs) also includes a digital copy of the film, as well as several hours of new extras—like the perplexing Unauthorized Behind-the-Scenes by Josh Brolin. Fans can also go through an extensive press timeline, which features 16 additional radio, TV, and online interviews. You might not want to watch them all in one sitting, but whether you check out EW.com’s interview with Javier Bardem or Jeffrey Lyons’s interview with Josh Brolin, you’re sure to come away with some interesting tidbits about the film and its stars.

Still, though, my favorite of the film’s extras is the making-of feature. The others are all quite interesting, but the making-of feature offers some interesting thoughts and observations that might make you look at the movie in a different way.

If you already have the original DVD or Blu-ray, it’s probably not necessary to pick up the new collector’s edition. But if you don’t own a copy yet, this new edition—with its hours of extras and insights (and that extra digital copy)—is worth adding to your collection.

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