Starring: Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Running Time: 122 mins
No Country For Old Men is an American film about a Texan hunter who comes across a briefcase full of money in the aftermath of a secret drug deal gone wrong, but he soon finds himself the target of a relentless pursuer.
This is a very intense film. Although its extreme darkness harkens back to some of the Coen Brothers’ best films, this is far from their normal fare. It’s a slow, violent and heavy-going thriller that will undoubtedly grip you with its piercing silence and stunning performances, making for a powerfully riveting watch from the beginning right up to the very ending.
There’s a lot that makes No Country For Old Men so intense, but nothing more than the lead performance by Javier Bardem, as ruthless killer Anton Chigurh. It’s a terrifying performance that sends shivers down your spine everytime he appears on screen, bringing the most dangerously silent killer to life in the most frightening way possible.
Bardemn gives an exceptional performance, and his portrayal of Chigurh’s sheer lack of emotion and undying, relentless stamina in hunting down his prey is thrilling to watch throughout, proving one of the most memorable movie villains of all time in the process.
On the other side of the chase is Josh Brolin, who, while by no means as stunning as Bardem, proves an excellent hero for us to follow. He’s not the perfect man, and the way he ends up in such a terrifying situation won’t illict any sympathy from you, but in contrast to the pure terror of Chigurh, he’s an excellent lead for you to side with, and fear for in the tightest moments where he’s seconds away from being hunted down and dealt with in the most horrifying fashion.
The film also features some excellent supporting performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson, both of whom are relatively less present throughout the film, but make their presence known whenever possible, and help to heighten the stakes of the chase going on with their input, something that adds to the intensity of the film as a whole.
Another thing that undoubtedly allows for such intensity is the direction from Joel and Ethan Coen. The film’s premise leads you to think of Fargo, however it’s thrilling to see the pair take on a similar premise in such a different fashion.
Fargo is an infamously dark comedy, but it pales in comparison to the depths that this film takes you. Again, the ruthlessness of Anton Chigurh throughout is enough to make you hide behind the sofa, but also the hopelessness of the situation of those he is pursuing and working against, and how wide-ranging that becomes, makes this film particularly dark and intense.
Furthermore, the Coen Brothers direct this film in such a way that it’s a hard-hitting and heavy-going thriller right from the start. This isn’t a film that will have you emotionally exhausted, but because of the terrifying silence throughout and very slow pacing, it’s a heavy watch, made even more intense by the sudden bursts of serious violence and action from time to time.
The story in itself is fairly simple, and allows for you to be sucked into the film as quickly as possible. On the whole, it makes for a riveting watch, and there’s no way to tell just when our main man’s time will be up, and Chigurh will have finally tracked him down, something that’s so exciting throughout.
As brilliant as the film is, the only qualm that I would have comes in the form of its very last act, in which the landscape of the story changes significantly, and so does the style of the film, transitioning into a far more ambiguous and often less satisfying thriller than the 100 or so minutes before.
Overall, however, I loved No Country For Old Men. It’s an amazingly intense and very exciting thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, or behind the sofa, what with a terrifying performance from Javier Bardem that exemplifies the extreme darkness that the film is never one to shy away from, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.1.