Critics' Pick

No Country for Old Men (R)

Action/Adventure 122 min. November 16, 2007
By Scott Foundas
The most measured, classical film of Joel and Ethan Coen's career, and maybe the best, No Country for Old Men carries echoes of earlier Coen brothers films — in the Texas setting (Blood Simple) and the idea of simple, small-town folk caught up in criminal business (Fargo). But unlike the loquacious eccentrics at the center of most of the Coens' movies, the characters here are stoic, solitary figures who make their homes in desolate landscapes. One of those men is Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a tall, saucer-eyed assassin who seems to lower the temperature in the theater whenever he appears onscreen. Another is out-of-work Vietnam vet Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), who stumbles upon $2 million of Chigurh's bloodstained drug money and decides to keep it for himself. A third is Sheriff Ed Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a onetime believer in the forces of law and order, made weary by age and time. The mechanics of No Country for Old Men recall those of a vintage film noir, and it’s as gripping and mordantly funny a treatise on the corrosive power of greed as The Killing and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. But in adapting Cormac McCarthy's novel, the Coens are markedly less interested in who (if anyone) gets away with the loot than in the primal forces that urge the characters forward. There are no heroes or villains here, only hunters and hunted, members of some endangered species trying to forestall their extinction.
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, Garret Dillahunt, Tess Harper, Barry Corbin, Stephen Root, Rodger Boyce Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Cormac McCarthy Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin Miramax Films