“No Country for Old Men”

As we all know, the world is full of criminals. Whether you’re reading a newspaper or watching TV, you are always hearing about recent crimes. Almost every weekend, Hollywood reminds us of the crazy world we live in by churning out thriller after thriller, but recently “Suspense movies” have lost the intensity that old Hitchcock films had. Ethan and Joel Coen’s latest film “No Country for Old Men” promises to put the “thrill” back in thriller. While out hunting, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad. Amidst the dead bodies and bags of heroin, Moss finds a small briefcase filled with around two million dollars in cash. After deciding to take the money, Moss realizes he’s being hunted down by the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurgh (Javier Bardem), who will stop at nothing to get the money. While Moss escapes and sends his wife, Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) into hiding, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to hunt down the murderer. The Coen Brothers are some of the most respected filmmakers in all of Hollywood. Having directed “Fargo,” “The Big Lebowski” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” the Coens certainly have a great track record. However, the Coen Brothers’ most recent movies have been quite disappointing. After some recent box office failures, Ethan and Joel had a lot to prove with “No Country for Old Men”. The final product is an entertaining and gripping movie, but it falls short of greatness. The Coen Brothers are famous for attempting to recreate real life. They want to explain their perspective of the world through the media of film. After watching “No Country for Old Men,” it is evident that they see the world as a dark and frightening place where the “innocent” are to blame. This grim tone recurs throughout the film and is perfectly executed. Truthfully, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that has made me hold on to my seat in fear of what is about to happen. The Coens are experts at setting up a scene. You will often find yourself led into a false sense of security by some witty humor, but within five seconds, the movie turns evil and you are caught so off-guard that you nearly become overwhelmed by the tension in the scene. For a thriller, “No Country for Old Men” rose above my expectations. Intense acting further added to the suspenseful mood. Although he has the lead role, Bardem has some of the fewest lines in the entire film. However, the way in which he portrays Anton Chigurgh is so real and terrifying that he doesn’t need to speak to scare you. He embodies evil and is sure to be considered one of the greatest movie villains of the modern age. Kelly MacDonald must also be credited. Sure, she might have a small part playing Carla Jean Moss, but she is fascinating to watch on screen. She really gets into the small town Texan attitude that gives the entire film a feeling of authenticity. Remember, the Coens are trying to mimic real life in the best way they can. Authentic acting is so key in this movie to continue the “real world” feel. Thankfully, the actors all around did a terrific job emulating the Texan way of life. “No Country for Old Men” has a whole lot to offer. However, in my mind, it doesn’t reach its full potential. First, the movie can get quite confusing. I’m not opposed to films that don’t give all the answers and leave the viewers thinking. However, “No Country for Old Men” glosses past some absolutely key information that should not be missed. You need to understand the basic plot elements, and the Coen Brothers got so wrapped up in the action that they almost forget to mention certain things. Many people walked out of my theater confused and a little frustrated. At times, “No Country for Old Men” can get densely packed with violence, so much so that it leaves little room for storytelling. My other complaint, which seems to be the major criticism for this blockbuster, is that the ending is strangely anti-climactic. While it might carry a powerful message, the ending loses all of the steam that the beginning and middle of the movie built up. A huge plot twist occurs in the last fifteen minutes that changes the game completely and makes the ending seem misguided. The big, meaningful message that the Coens wanted to tell in the last few minutes was ruined by uncharacteristic decisions by the directors. The ending seems removed and petty in comparison to the hour and a half of thrilling film previous. I’m interested to hear what others think of this unexpected ending, because I certainly didn’t like it. “No Country for Old Men” was so close to being perfect, but too many things were rushed and the ending was too flimsy for me to give it a perfect score. However, the Coens have achieved some levels of perfection. Try and catch this movie before it goes out of theaters. It might not be perfect, but it’s still very good. Grade: 5