No Country for Old Men
Even with the great expectations attached to a Coen brothers film adapted from a Cormac McCarthy novel and featuring remarkable performances by Javier Bardem and Tommie Lee Jones, the onscreen results are extraordinary. Given the assembled talent, the good news is not entirely surprising. But a key aspect of the film’s effectiveness comes from an edgy unpredictability that is central to the novel and that the Coens have converted into brilliantly effective film form. The basic story has a pulpy familiarity to it—a west Texas roughneck (Josh Brolin) finds a satchel full of money at the scene of a drug deal gone lethally wrong out in the desert; a demonically efficient professional killer (Javier Bardem) begins tracking him down; a grizzled old warrior of a rural sheriff (Tommie Lee Jones) follows the trail of both, hoping to protect the one and somehow limit the increasingly appalling damage wreaked by the other. All of the characters enmeshed in a web of convolutedly tangled events. It’s a crime story, part road movie, part chase film and part gunfighter epic in a disturbingly contemporary setting, a modern border saga in the parched landscape of the legendary Old West.