|No Country For Old Men|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Saturday, 01 March 2008|
On the surface, the film is a fairly simple “cat-and-mouse” story of a small town man named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), who stumbles on a bundle of cash from a drug deal gone bad and gets in over his head as the “rightful” owner pursues him by any means necessary. Set in a very non-descript time that feels like the early 80s based on the cars and haircuts, the film is a roller coaster of suspense and tension that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to end.
When it comes to villains, evil has a new name and that name Is Anton Chigurh. First there were Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster. Then came Darth Vader, Freddy Krueger and Hannibal Lecter. Despite not being a horror film, the villain in "No Country For Old Men," portrayed brilliantly by Spaniard Javier Bardem is absolutely riveting. Everything about him is slow, methodical and insanely maniacal. His weapon of choice is not a knife or a pistol. He goes from place to place, searching for his stolen fortune a little boarder town in Texas wielding a pressurized air gun with a long slender air tank, it is a tool that is used to stun and kill cattle. To the casual observer he looks like a quiet weirdo walking around town with a bad haircut, a strange accent and what looks like an iron lung air container. He cannot only kill a man at close range with this air gun but he can destroy any deadbolt lock on a door in an instant with this thing. If Jack Nicholson had this crafty little weapon back in The Shining, he wouldn’t have had to spend so much time cutting a hole in the bathroom door, but we never would have gotten the “Here’s Johnny” line. When a job calls for more firepower, Chigurh whips out a bizarre shotgun with a silencer on it that make some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s guns in Terminator look pidly.
Chigurh is so cold and emotionless that at several times in the movie he makes his decision on weather he should kill someone who he runs into on his search for his money based purely on a coin flip. It’s hard to wrap your head around the level of insanity that it would take to have such disregard for human life, yet Chigurh has this bizarre code of ethics where he keeps his word no matter what, so inside, he feel he is actually a good person. I have never seen such a contradiction in someone’s actions compared to his or her internal code of ethics and it took a brilliant performance to make this contradiction come across on screen.
I’m not a movie nerd and I saw very few if any of the other movies that were nominated for Oscars this year but when it came time for best supporting actor, I was 110% confident that Bardem would take the prize for this spectacular performance
Tommy Lee Jones who plays Sheriff Ed Tom Bell gets top billing in this film and you could technically call him the “star” of the film, but relatively speaking his part in the movie is not that big. No Country for Old Men is very much an ensemble film where the screen time and importance of each character is evenly divided. What Sheriff Bell he represents is a small town law man who is simply not ready to deal with the new wave of crime that the cocaine and heroin trade across the boarder from Mexico into the United States and it’s going to take new kinds of weapons and much more advanced technology than is available to a retiring sheriff. In other words the world is changing and now with this new type of criminal, this is no country for old men anymore. The young whippersnappers are going to have to deal with this problem.
Technically speaking, the Blu-ray release of No Country For Old Men is very solid. The transfer is clean, the dialog and sound effects are mixed well, most notably the distinct tone of our villains cattle gun. The sound of deadbolt locks being blasted to smithereens and the back of the lock flying across the room hitting the back wall is startling and perfectly placed in the uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround track.
The extras are exactly the same as those on the standard def DVD release. All of the supplemental material is in standard definition and there is no directory commentary. This seems like a strange omission as the Cohen’s are the most famous director group going (sorry Hughes and Wachowski brothers) and to not get additional insight into the making of this film right from the Cohen brothers mouths will be disappointing for film nerds and wannabe directors. There is a 25 minute “The Making of No Country for Old Men” and a few other little shorts that clock in well under 10 minutes, but “Working with the Coens” and “Diary of a Country Sheriff” are ultimately a little boring and not as insightful as I had hoped. Nonetheless, the film is outstanding on it’s own and the Blu-ray version is simply the best way to see this film if it’s no longer in your local Cineplex.