No Country For Old Men

No Country For Old Men is a 2008 crime thriller film written and directed by the Coen Brothers that stars Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, and Kelly MacDonald. It is based upon the 2005 novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. The film and the novel are both set in the year 1980. After stumbling upon a drug deal gone bad, war veteran Llewellyn Moss appropriates the $2.4 million in cash he found at the scene, which causes him a whole mess of trouble.

The Coen Brothers have a long and impeccable career. The duo was behind some of the best films of the last 25 years, such as their oft-overlooked and largely unknown but excellent 1984 directorial debut Blood Simple, the famed films Fargo and The Big Lebowski, the underrated dark comedy adaptation of the Greek epic The Odyssey in the form of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the drama Barton Fink, and the excellent remake of the John Wayne classic True Grit; the list goes on. No Country For Old Men, though, is certainly their magnum opus.

Unlike most of the Coen Brothers’ filmography, there is nary a laugh to be had in this film. It is a dark, brooding, suspense flick with minimal dialogue and a very bare bones plotline: Moss gets money, money’s being tracked, cartel sends hitman, cat and mouse game. That’s it, that is all there is. This is the only film I have ever seen without any sort of musical score of any kind. There is nothing to distract  from the brutal and visceral violence that permeates nearly every second of this film, violence which is further elevated by the brilliant visual genius of famed and acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins.

No Country For Old Men, like all of McCarthy’s works, is brimming with allegory and metaphor. Here, the neo-Western setting of 1980 near the Texas-Mexico border is a setup for a dark fable of greed and the consequences of that greed. No person in this story can be qualified as a stalwart, wholeheartedly good man. They all have their vices, such as every person does in real life. For many of us, that vice is greed, as it was for Llewelyn Moss in this tale. He represents the everyman. And what does the everyman fear most yet he cannot avoid? Death. It is said that the wage of sin is death. Here, Death comes with a cheesy bowl cut and a captive bolt pistol. Anton Chigurh has maybe ten lines throughout the entire film, but his horrifying presence can be felt throughout the film thanks to impeccable acting by Javier Bardem. His stoic, mostly silent performance is the highlight of this film, no question about it. The rest of the cast gives excellent performances as well. The script by the Coen Brothers is flawless, with perfect pacing, pulse-pounding suspense, grueling and exciting and yet somehow terrifying action, and a very deep philosophical message hidden underneath all the carnage.

No Country For Old Men is a masterpiece of a film and probably my second favorite film after The Usual Suspects. Everything about this film is executed to the highest possible quality. It is no wonder why this film received so much acclaim and accolades. Every frame of this film will keep you glued to the screen until the credits roll. While the Coen Brothers have managed to make quite a name for themselves and consistently create great, borderline brilliant films, it is highly unlikely they will ever be able to pass up No Country For Old Men. It is an amazing thriller film that I would recommend to anyone, no matter their usual preferences. It is on Netflix as of August 2016 and you should definitely go and watch it.

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