It’s always fascinating to watch a movie that you haven’t watched in a while – especially a good movie, of course. Having the opportunity to relieve all of the wonderful scenes and become enveloped in the story, I decided to watch, “No Country for Old Men.” It stars Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh and Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss. Set in the late 70’s in southern Texas, this crime thriller is a modern, somber western flick.
In the opening scenes, we see Chigurh immediately taking the life of two helpless men. The first struggle shows his widening eyes and stern stare while strangling a police officer with his handcuffs. This left me convinced that Chigurh surely is a psycho. Javier Bardem’s portrayal of this serial hitman is surely worthy of an award. His weapon of choice, a high pressure air gun, is then used on the second innocent man. This scene starkly contrasts the preceding one by showing Chigurh calmly delivering instructions before taking the man’s life. Our psycho killer is not the typical “crime of passion” killer.
We’re introduced to Moss when he’s out hunting with his sniper rifle. My most recent memory of Josh Brolin was in “American Gangster,” which starts himself and Denzel Washington, among others. His character then was of a tough crooked cop, which has some similarities in Moss’ character: he fights dirty. In, “No Country for Old Men,” a blood trail of an unexpected dog brings Moss to the aftermath of an apparent drug deal gone bad. His hunt for wild game turned into a hunt for el ultimo hombre, or the last man standing from the botched deal. This is the moment where his life changes for the worst, for he finds a suitcase full of money to take home. Quite fittingly, the scene ends with the start of a thunder storm.
Back at his trailer park, Moss and wife Carla Jean chat about the happenings of the day, but to no avail. Moss is a man of few words. He comes off as cold and unaffectionate with the line he gives to his wife, “keep running that mouth of yours, I’m gonna take you in the back and screw you,” after her inquiry of his newly acquired guns. Although brash in his character, his sympathetic side comes through when he awakes at night to bring water to the injured man he left for dead back at the “gettin’ place.” This phrase that Moss used when briefly speaking to his wife implies that he frequently surveys the area for any freebies. However, it remains unknown whether this is true. This guilty conscience of his only warrants more obstacles to come.
The scene at the gas station gives us a glimpse into Chigurh’s logic. To him, small talk infringes on his personal space. After being offended about how the weather was back in his area, he asks the gas attendant a series of peculiar questions like, “what time do you go to bed?” Remaining in his calm demeanor, Chigurh speaks in a low, but understandable tone. Even when the gas attendant becomes startled by his prying, Chigurh repeats himself without any change of tone or inflection. This awkward interaction ends with a coin toss for “everything” the man has.
Sheriff Bell finally comes into the picture and an investigation is at hand. Chigurh is being sought out for the murder of two men while Moss is being sought out for his possible involvement with the botched drug exchange. Bell is an old-timer who has respectfully served his community, though as of late, he doubts his desire to remain sheriff by contemplating an early retirement. Tommy Lee Jones always plays a likeable character, and he ceases to fail here. This movie goes on at a somewhat slow, but fitting pace with the lack of a musical score highlighting this affect.
This film is a pleasure to watch with all of its action and the cat-and-mouse chase. Many scenes will have you at the edge of your seat to know what will happen next. Although the unexpected ending may seem to be a bit abrupt, it was refreshing to see an unpredictable plot with its many twists and turns.