No Country For Old Men – The Texas Airgun Massacre

No Country For Old Men     A-

Starring Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo)
Rated R for strong graphic violence and some language
Appropriate for ages 17+

The Story: When a hunter (Brolin) stumbles upon a heroine deal gone bad in West Texas, he grabs the bag of money left on the scene and heads out of town.  Unfortunately for him, a sociopath that loves to kill (Bardem) is hot on his trail. 

The Good: The Coen Brothers have always told their own stories, so to see them take on this novel by Cormac McCarthy is very different for them.  If you hadn’t read the book, or at least known the source, though, you would have thought it was their tale.  As a pseudo-narrator and sometimes participant, Tommy Lee Jones provides for a laid back view of the evil that men do, but the real power here lies behind Javier Bardem – the killer with the chili-bowl haircut.  Bardem is one of the scariest villains since Hannibal Lecter and I will predict that many a trophy will be added to his mantle come awards time.  For the first 90 minutes of this film, I was certain that I was watching the best film of the year. 

The Bad: It’s not that the third act is a disappointment, but there is an artistic choice made here that took me out of the film.  I won’t reveal the ending, and I’m not sure if they were just trying to be true to the source material, but the brothers Coen make a decision that I second guess.  I’m sure that they really don’t care if I act as a backseat driver here, but I’m also sure many will wish that this fantastic film could have ended on a different note.  Imagine, if you will, that you are on an amazing vacation.  One for the ages.  Then, on the last day – you are mugged.  No matter what transpired before, the trip is tainted.  That’s the feeling No Country gave me.

The Summary: Regardless of the strangely uncharacteristic third act, No Country for Old Men remains a powerful and horrifying psychological thriller.