No Country For Old Men – Released 2007

I’m always interested in seeing anything with Tommy Lee Jones. Only a handful of guys can consistently own a character like he does. I had the pleasure of seeing No Country For Old Men on the big screen and knew right away I’ll be getting it on Blu Ray. Since purchasing it, I’ve seen it several times. The entire cast is fantastic, but months later when you think of this film, the people you will remember are Tommy Lee Jones playing Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Javier Bardem playing the crazy hitman Chigurh, and Josh Brolin playing Llewelyn.

It’s a Crime Drama, if you have Netflix, you’ll find it under Thrillers. The story happens in a small town in Texas close to the Mexican Border. One of them places where everybody hears about it when you sneeze. Think of open dry lands, desert highways, lonesome gas stations, generations of rednecks and cowboys that have rarely been anywhere else, city centers with few businesses, acres of land between homes, horse ranches and farms.

The story begins with a drug deal gone bad, leaving a number of casualties. A war veteran (Llewelyn) going about his business, by chance discovers the scene. He finds the drugs and the buy-money, ignores the first, but takes the latter. A ruthless hitman (Chigurh) is sent in by the traffickers to recover the missing dough. The town’s Sherriff (Tom) is face to face with a new era of crime. He’s astounded by the evolution and brazenness of todays’ criminal mind. Trying to make sense of it has him questioning his ability to keep up and if its time for retirement.

Shortly after the opening, you witness a brutal murder scene that gives you a glimpse of how loco the hitman Chigurh is, and it sets the pace for the suspense that trails the entire film. This is a storyline that keeps you on the edge bursting with anticipation. There’s an early scene where he’s about to pay for gas and the owner of the gas station attends to him. Instinct tells the old man to tread carefully, there’s something ominous about this dudes’ presence. He can’t zero in on the problem, but he knows the threat is real. I think the purpose of that dialogue is to show that any random person can be on the receiving end of Chigurh’s wicked sense of justice.

With a hitman in town asking questions, Llewelyn goes on the run with the money. He’s not naive by any means and knows such a large sum won’t be easily forgotten. Eventually, someone will come looking and he’ll have to earn the right to keep it. In the beginning, we see him hunting deer so we know he enjoys a good hunt. And being a war veteran, he also understands combat. He recognizes when he has the high ground and when he’s at a disadvantage. Consequently knowing when to fight and when to run. He becomes intrigued by Chigurh’s methods who by the way, is also learning that Llewelyn has good survival skills, enough to reverse the hunter and prey roles at any moment. Their relationship grows into something of a challenge between formidable adversaries. A lot happens before these two actually meet but mennnnnn…..when they do, our patience is rewarded with some breath-taking action.

Another scene with excellent suspense is when Chigurh has Carson Wells (played by Woody Harrison) at gunpoint in his hotel room. The conversation is extremely tense yet civil. They have your full attention, you listen and wait for the climax, then the phone rings, LOUD! Like me, you may jump in your seat from the built up tension. This is a serious movie that will also make you laugh. If you miss the humor weaved into the dialogue, that’s because they’re not meant to be punchy. Some of it may take a couple of seconds to digest, but the humor is definitely there and its good.

I love stories that take me to a different time or place, this one had me thinking of life in that part of Texas. The people, their accents, mentality and culture. It’s a world I’ve never experienced and this film put me right in the middle of it. I suspect the limited use of special effects is intentional, so what you have in the end is a very believable picture. The color grading and overall look matches the environment; the sound effects are spot on. I get chills hearing Chigurh’s gunfire and the wild damage on impact. It’s a unique splattering sound that just makes you fear this guy.

There’s a lot of silent action in this movie, scenes where all you hear is ambient noise. We know from cowboy movies that the coolest cowboys don’t talk much. This seldom speaking adds mystery and wisdom to their character. That may be part of the effect our director is going for, not sure but either way, it works.

Tommy Lee Jones gives another solid performance here. You really get to feel how torn his character is. Know how when you go clubbing and things start to become unfamiliar? Like the music, the dance moves, the age group of people around you, the dress code, the acceptable language, mannerisms and so forth. What do you do? Keep dancing and try to blend in? Or leave in search for a more suitable crowd? That’s how the crime scene started to look to the Sherriff, and Tommy made me believe it.

The plot is not a mindbender, you wont need any deep thinking to understand it. Simply strap in for a suspenseful ride filled with action stops along the way. Be ready to see your predictions on what happens to the characters go up in smoke. I’ll sign off with one of my favorite lines from the movie……You never see what’s coming. There! That’s what’s coming.

Is this 122mins of my life I wish I could take back? Absolutely Not!
Will I see it again? Yes, already seen it over 5 times.
Is it worth owning? Yes, I purchased it on Blu-ray.
What about the soundtrack? Appropriate, I’m not big into country jams though.
Should there be sequel? No, but if they make one, I’ll watch it.
Who will like this movie? Anyone who likes a good blend of crime-drama and action.
Is it a Classic? Yes. The screenplay is nothing short of being one and like other classics, I’ll be watching this for many years to come.

Here’s another awesome line from the movie that cracks me up – “Even in the contest between man and steer, the issue is not certain”.