In rural Texas, welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) discovers the remains of several drug runners who have all killed each other in an exchange gone violently wrong. Rather than report the discovery to the police, Moss decides to simply take the two million dollars present for himself. This puts the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), on his trail as he dispassionately murders nearly every rival, bystander and even employer in his pursuit of his quarry and the money. As Moss desperately attempts to keep one step ahead, the blood from this hunt begins to flow behind him with relentlessly growing intensity as Chigurh closes in. Meanwhile, the laconic Sherrif Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) blithely oversees the investigation even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to thwart. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tess Harper wore the same boots in this film that she wore in Tender Mercies (1983). She did this because she felt that Loretta could have been an older version of Rosa Lee. See more »
There is more milk in the bottle when Bell pours himself a glass in Moss's home than when Chigurh takes the same bottle some time earlier in the film. See more »
Ed Tom Bell:
I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carried one; that's the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn't wear one up in Comanche County. I always liked to hear about ...
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While on a hunting trip, a sportsman (Josh Brolin) finds dead men and a stash of cash in the remote back country of West Texas, the result of a drug deal gone wrong. The greedy hunter takes the cash, but soon discovers that the resourceful criminal responsible for the drug deal, an outlaw named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), has a way of tracking the loot. The hunter thus finds that he is the hunted. Meanwhile, an aging Texas sheriff named Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is after both the sportsman and Chigurh. The story is set in the early 1980s.
To some extent, this film is a character study of Sheriff Bell, an honest lawman who is wise, observant, grounded in reality, and has a long memory. "No Country For Old Men" is really his story. He doesn't know quite what to make of the drug war that has crossed over from Mexico into Texas; it's something new (for the 1980s); and it makes a land that has always been hostile to settlers even more hostile and dangerous.
The film's premise is quite simple, and the story is straightforward with minimal twists. A lot of time and care are taken with procedural actions: loading a gun, dressing a bloody wound, constructing a pole to retrieve a package from an air vent, for example. Dialogue is minimal; there's lots of silence.
Overall casting and acting are impressive. I especially liked the performance of Tommy Lee Jones who seemed a natural choice for the role of Sheriff. Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin are also well cast. Several minor roles are extremely well performed, like the store owner who is asked to call a coin toss, and the rotund lady who, with a dour face, defies Chigurh's requests in a characteristic Texas twang.
The film's color cinematography is quite good; there are lots of sweeping, wide-angle outdoor shots. I really enjoyed the geographic setting, with that whistling West Texas wind, the silence, and the stunning vistas. It's a landscape that is starkly beautiful. Yet, despite its beauty and wilderness traits, it can quickly turn hostile and unforgiving for anyone unprepared for its hidden risks.
"No Country For Old Men" is a fine film. I'd describe it as a chase story -- character study combo, with elements of noir, especially in the visuals. Violence may be a tad much for some viewers. But given the subject matter, it is entirely appropriate.
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