Last week I went to see the Coen Brothers’ newest release, No Country for Old Men. I am a huge fan of their previous work, but this film is a far cry from The Big Lebowski or O Brother Where Art Thou. No Country is their darkest production to date, making Fargo seem like Howdy Doody in comparison. The movie opens with the a mysterious killer named Anton Chigurh (an astonishingly scary Javier Bardem) being arrested and taken to jail. While waiting to be processed, he promptly escapes custody by strangling to death his arresting officer. Cold, calculating, and with a moral compass that is thought provoking, he’s one of the scariest killers ever put on film.
The plot really kicks into gear when a fellow named Llewelyn Moss, portrayed excellently Josh Brolin (American Gangster), comes across a drug deal-turned-shootout in the desert, and makes off with 2 million in cash. The rest of the film follows Llewelyn’s desparate attempt to keep the money that Anton Chigurh is so determined to keep for himself.
The most intense thing about the movie, other than the countless murders, is the complete lack of music. The only sound in the first 15 minutes or so are the background noises: no music or dialog. Following that, the only music in the entire movie is a mariachi band playing on the streets of Mexico. As usual, the cinematography is excellent; the stark shots of Texas landscape at the opening set the mood perfectly for the scenes which follow. The killer rarely speaks, leaving dead bodies in his wake with no real rhyme or reason.
In true Coen Brothers fashion, the film is not without its (small) share of dark humor. The deputy sheriff provides the only comic character in the film, and Tommy Lee Jones delivers some clever lines throughout. Though not intended to be funny, Milton from Office Space makes an small appearance, sans glasses and red Swingline stapler. The typical Coen cast: John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, etc. is nowhere to be found here, but this movie is anything but typical.
There is plenty of blood, so beware if you are squeamish. If you are able to handle violence, then get yourself to the theatre and get ready of a ride you won’t forget any time soon. No Country is a technical masterpiece of a thriller; I guarantee that you’ll leave the theatre with a newfound appreciation for the simplicity of your (hopefully) peaceful, murder-free life.