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Plot: In rural Texas, welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss discovers the remains of several drug runners who have all killed each other in an exchange gone violently wrong. Rather than report the discovery to the police, Moss decides to simply take the two million dollars present for himself. This puts the psychopathic killer, Anton Chigurh, on his trail as he dispassionately murders nearly every rival, bystander and even employer in his pursuit of his quarry and the money. As Moss desperately attempts to keep one step ahead, the blood from this hunt begins to flow behind him with relentlessly growing intensity as Chigurh closes in. Meanwhile, the laconic Sherrif Ed Tom Bell blithely oversees the investigation even as he struggles to face the sheer enormity of the crimes he is attempting to thwart. Runtime: 122 mins Release Date: 20 Nov 2007
Coens firing on all cylinders. Brilliant. (by motta80-2)
If this doesn't end my year in the top two films of the year then we are in for one hell of an awesome year of movies.The new film from two of the best filmmakers working today No Country For Old Men shows the talents of the Coen Brothers on top form. After a couple of disappointments Intolerable Cruelty had flashes of Coen genius but felt more of a Coen imitation than the real thing; Ladykillers had the odd funny moment but was the blandest film the brothers ever made, and there's just no excusing Marlon Wayans! they knock this violent western drama out of the park.More in the vein <more>
of their superb early mostly-serious efforts Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing my personal favourite of the Coen back catalogue No Country For Old Men is a slow-moving, character-driven masterpiece about uncompromising and uncompromised characters. It is very violent and bloody and not always for the squeamish.Shot through with moments of humour these come, as in life, from real situations and observations so don't be fooled into thinking this will be the serious film with goofy-characters Coens of Fargo. No Country For Old Men is a tough, gritty story.The unrelenting pace may take its time but you are gripped every moment. This is a thriller that genuinely thrills.Javier Bardem gives the best performance of his career. And, yes, I have seen The Sea Inside and he in superb in that but here he is simply extraordinary. It is a portrayal of unrelenting evil, of true derangement, of a human being with no shreds of humanity that ranks at the very top of studied film psychopaths. And I say film not movie because this is not a clichéd character. This is not a character whose lunacy you enjoy over popcorn. This is one of the most frightening performances ever committed to celluloid. I felt truly nervous of what was going to happen every time he walked on screen.Josh Brolin essentially carries the bulk of the movie and he is excellent in a role that challenges him. I have never seen him perform to this level and if Bardem didn't steal the film you'd be talking about Brolin all the way home. As it is this gives him a showcase for his talents that should see him get a lot more attention.Tommy Lee Jones is used sparingly but to great effect. Sounding more like Michael Parks than ever before his scenes pepper the movie with a wearied view on a world he doesn't really like or understand to great effect.I did find Stephen Root a little distracting as i have never seen him in a serious role before and he just looks amusing but he is in very little.Roger Deakins' cinematography is breathtaking as usual and the Coens' script is superbly crafted. There are moments, almost asides from the main plot, that would be superfluous in most scripts and excised in most studio films but which work perfectly in the overall context of the movie as only the Coens can achieve. One scene featuring Bardem in a gas station is up there with the best scenes i have ever seen on film.I have not gone into the plot here because I saw this film having not read Cormac McCarthy novel and knowing little other than the basic log-line - a man out hunting comes upon a scene of dead bodies, guns, drugs and money on the Mexican border and comes to the attention of both those behind the scene and a local world-wearied sheriff - and i think that's the way to see this film.Go in knowing as little as you can but knowing at least this: this is a serious, violent, slow-paced character piece from the Coens. This is not a Fargo. If you are squeamish don't see it. If you have a short-attention span don't see it. If you only love the Coens for their fantastic comedies like O Brother and Big Lebowski and the comedy/thriller Fargo don't see it. But if you want to see an intelligent, superbly acted, powerful, beautiful cinematic treat that will remind you of the true power of cinema see it, see it, see it. It's a masterpiece. Bravo Ethan and Joel.
If you like films that literally take your breath away, then this goes to the top of the list.As stated elsewhere, Javier Bardem is so spectacularly evil and menacing that, if I were Mrs Bardem, I'd be worried about him coming home at night. The man exuded controlled evil, and I found myself not breathing when he came onto screen, yet couldn't take my eyes from him - a truly mesmerising presence.Tommy Lee Jones turns in a belter of a performance, and mention should also be made of Kelly MacDonald who nails a faultless Texan accent alongside a multi-layered performance despite the <more>
paucity of her screen time .Beautifully shot, as you would expect, and with some welcome moments of humour amongst the gore, this is a very very fine film. Miss it at your peril, because when those little golden men are being handed out next year in LA, I predict a lot of them will be going to this film. A belter.
You need to call it. I can't call it for you. It wouldn't be fair. (by Quinoa1984)
No Country for Old Men is as exceptional a mix of two creative talents- the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen, and author Cormac McCarthy recent winner of the Pulitzer for The Road, his own masterpiece as one could imagine, as they converge on a story that in lessor hands would be just a B movie. The story concerns an average Joe out hunting one day in Texas who comes across a bunch of dead bodies, heroin, and a satchel with 2 million in cash. He takes it, but without knowing that a true embodiment of a psychopath Javier Bardem is on his trail, and as he evades him it becomes more and <more>
more clear the fatalism that lies in store, as a weathered sheriff Tommy Lee Jones is also on the trail with perpetulally sad eyes looking on from his stolid demeanor. More than this, it's also about as good a morality play as one could ask for, because it plays and tools and makes very serious questions about what is moral, or what isn't, or what is so ambiguous that it's all up to the toss of a coin or a chance ride out of town. There are a few interpretations to Bardem's character Anton that could be taken, but one thing is certain- he's less a symbol than a real presence, a "ghost" as Jones's sheriff calls him that can come around at the drop of a pin, usually in the dark, and strike the utmost fear or confusion if you're a clerk in the hearts of men and women. You'll never look at a coin toss the same way again. Or an air-gun. Or fixing a bullet wound in a leg. Or a hunt at a motel. Or even the aftermath of a car crash.But at the same time it's the purest time of cinema, recalling Hitchcock and Leone and Welles's Touch of Evil and the best of noir and westerns. There are so many exceptional shots and lighting, so much depth to the perception of the characters through the mis-en-scene, so much tension, that through this it's all up to the actors to make or break the near-perfection that is the McCarthy source. Bardem embodies Anton like no other could- you can't look at his eyes, often steel-cold and horrifically professional to what professional who can say , which occasional tear- and it's obviously worthy of an Oscar. And Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones are also fantastic; we see Brolin often in the midst of an action scene, a moment of 'save-your-life' going on, and one can finally see an actor of his caliber completely breaking out in a role that doesn't require him to ever totally "emote". Jones, on the other hand, gives a compassionate turn in a film that's about the struggles of desperate men in a land without law and order. He's gone through so much that it comes out completely in his voice and eyes, sorrowful but holding back, and he reaches a level of connection with the character that makes the Fugitive look like simpleton TV. Kelly McDonald, who plays Lleland's wife, is also excellent when called upon, especially in a crucial scene later in the film.It's gut-wrenching, bleak, violent, super-tense I clenched many a knuckle during some scenes , surprisingly funny in a darkly comic manner not seen by the Coens in many years, and artistically fashioned to a beat that is meditative watch the opening moments with Jones's voice-over , simple, and doomed. It's beautiful and terribly tragic, for McCarthy fans it finally strikes at what is truest to his material- even if you haven't read the book itself the Road will give an indication of the mood and atmosphere at hand- and at the moment I can't think of any other film that would be the best pick of the year- maybe one of the best films I've ever seen.
Llewelyn Moss: Can't help but compare yourself to the ol' timers. Can't help but wonder how'd they do in these times.The Coen brothers have been making movies for over 20 years now. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is their twelfth feature together. While they were once considered princely collaborators held at the highest esteem by film enthusiasts the world over, they have recently been the victims of their own identity crisis. Caught between their signature exploration of all things quirky and abnormal found in the parts of America thought to be forgotten and the demanding pressures <more>
of delivering bankable Hollywood fare, the Coen's finished by delivering sub-par work that tarnished their lustrous reputation. The film enthusiasts thought they might have lost great talents to Hollywood while Hollywood wasn't even sure they wanted them. What were these "aging" filmmakers to do? They could have polished off another Tom Hanks picture and crossed their fingers. They could have appealed to their fans and told another tale of the idiosyncrasies of those living in the middle of nowhere. They could have tried appeasing both parties by attempting THE BIG LEBOWSKI 2. Instead, they did none of these things. No, instead, the Coen brothers crafted a film that is unlike any film they have ever made and is also perhaps the best film they've ever made.Translating Cormac McCarthy's novel about the relationship between the hunter and the hunted to the screen may be smoothest decision these boys have made for years. Not only does it allow for the brothers to explore the grim sides of characters consumed by money and an unnerving peace derived from killing, but NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN also leaves the door open for an interpretive commentary on the Coen's career itself. Allow me to explain by painting a picture from the film. Llewellyn Moss Josh Brolin aims his rifle at an unsuspecting animal grazing alongside the herd. He is right now in charge, in control, the hunter. He fires and misses, thus beginning his steady descent into ruin. He moves toward the spot where his prey once stood only to find the site of a drug deal massacre. Here, he innocently stumbles upon an enormous amount of money. He picks it up and goes without realizing the hell that is about to be brought upon him. He inadvertently becomes the hunted. He spends the remainder of the film calculating and executing different attempts to regain the superior position he once held. The comparisons are subtle and come about naturally rather than existing as the initial basis for the film to grow out of, reinforcing their genuine nature. I could explain my logic behind this analogy but that would be very un-Coen like.Another consistency throughout the Coen Brothers' careers is the elevated caliber of talent they attract to their diverse projects. With their writing at top of its game, performances by Brolin, Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones are pushed to the heights of their potential. Moss is a quiet man, focused and constantly thinking about what his next play will be. He has no time for ego, only function, and though most of his motivation is to avoid drawing attention to himself, Brolin's interpretation cannot help but capture our notice. For the second time this year in conjunction with his slimy crooked cop turn in American GANGSTER , Brolin reinvigorates his skills by inhabiting Moss fully as an instinctual and reactionary being. While Jones is also impressive as a police officer resigned to following the action without any possibility of curbing the outcome, it is Bardem's performance as Anton Chigurh that will leave audiences with a haunting chill after experiencing it. His portrayal of a psychopathic hunter is both disturbing and riveting. This is a man who enjoys torturing his victims mentally by asking them questions meant to expose the inconsistencies in the way they live their lives before ushering them out of this world. He abides by some form of ethical code that only makes sense in his own mind and fully justifies his killings. His adherence to this code is what sends him to an internal state of ecstasy as he chokes a man and stares intently at the ceiling. The hunter is always frightening but Bardem is worse; he's unsettling.NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is entirely disconcerting but is somehow still a tranquil experience. There is a normality amidst the unrest that thrives in the plain, natural manner in which the story unfolds. The chase is constantly surprising without ever seeming forced. Each move made makes perfect sense but is not seen coming. On this level, even their formal execution of this film speaks to the trajectory of their career. Who knew that leaving quirk behind for harrowing humour and a story that serves itself instead of as a platform for character would invigorate the Coen's method and assert their place as two of the greatest American filmmakers operating in a country thought not to have any place for the them? I like to think they did. In doing so, they have also made a movie for a sharp adult audience in a country bent on catering to all things youthful and disposable.GRADE: A
The Coen Brothers' masterful achievement (by jp71ph)
It was not very long before I watched 'No Country for Old Men' that I watched the other remarkable film of 2007, 'There Will Be Blood.' Back then I thought that Paul Thomas Anderson has delivered the Best Picture of the year with his oil epic, but after watching the Coen brothers chilling and violent adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel, I knew right away that here was a film destined to be even a greater film than any I've seen this past year.It's not easy to watch 'No Country for Old Men.' The first time I saw it, I found myself dazed enough to not <more>
be able to stand-up immediately even after the whole end credits have finished. And yet, mixed with the feeling of shock is the profound sense of wonder and awe with what I have just witnessed on the screen. It took me another viewing to fully appreciate the meaning and intention of the film, and while the experience from watching the film is not one everybody will enjoy and understand, it certainly is one of the most moving and thought-provoking movies I have ever watched. This is the kind of movie that will make you think, the kind that stays with you even after a long time has passed since you've last watched it. On the literal level, it is a simple cat-and-mouse chase thriller movie, but from within its roots lie a very profound philosophical and penetrating analysis not only of the characters and the situations involved in the story, but also of the kind of world we are living in today and the more monstrous sides of it we often choose to ignore.The story revolves around the chase between a guy named Llewelyn Moss Josh Brolin, who stumbles upon a stash of money in a drug deal gone wrong in the middle of the desert and a psychopathic but surprisingly "principled" assassin named Anton Chigurh Javier Bardem . The third party and the moral center of the story is the guy trying to find both the hunter and the hunted, Ed Tom Bell, the old sheriff of a peaceful, but increasingly becoming violent locality in West Texas. The movie features the perfect mix thrill and excitement that would be expected out of a movie in this genre. The Coen brothers' direction of the particularly intense chase scenes between Chigurh and Moss are masterful, evoking emotions of suspense to the highest level and pushing the audience to the very edge of their seats. This is achieved by very careful editing and sound direction that perfectly recreates the tense atmosphere whenever a particular scene is being played out. Also remarkable is the photography done by Roger Deakins of vast scenes in the desert where even what the ordinary moviegoer would consider as "empty scenes", where no action is played out, tells a story in a visual manner, where even when there is no dialogue or action on screen, the sweeping images speak out for themselves.'No Country for Old Men' is rich in such bravura kind of film-making. The particular camera move, position and choice of background and other trivial details such as time of day, cloud cover or positioning of the props and point-of-view perspective offer the best experience for the audience, and the most effective means of story-telling for the Coen brothers. Just watch the scenes of Tommy Lee Jones as the tormented old sheriff being burdened by the challenge of something that is greater a force than himself, something that he "does not understand," and you will realize what I mean. The environment and tone created by the filmmakers perfectly accentuates the performance of Jones and more importantly, the core messages of the film. This style is present throughout the film and one of the particular points that makes it more than just a chase movie.I must say that I can't help but agree to most people when they say the Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh is the most disturbing character and yet mesmerizing to grace the screen since Anthony Hopkins introduced us to Hannibal Lecter in 'Silence of the Lambs.' Chigurh effectively radiates evil and embodies violence in a very intelligent and forceful manner that touches the fear in all of us. Like Lecter, he personifies evil not in the conventional and simple sense, but in way that somehow presents to us the whole magnitude and complexity of its nature. In the dialogue he speaks, a kind of thinking revealed is one that is calculating and deeply philosophical but essentially ruthless and sinister.The film's monumental achievement is in its ability to remarkably transport us into a world where the places, emotions, fears, anxieties, choices, morals and realities of life are strikingly brought to life and presented to us in a manner where we, after the whole experience, can reflect upon and look back with careful consideration. In the end, the moviegoer is left to marvel at the beauty and madness of it all. Here the theme of innocence lost as it is corrupted by evil and violence is explored in the most cinematic fashion, delivered perfectly with richness of emotion and the greatest impact possible. The violence and bleakness of it all is not there to simply evoke reaction or engage the audience, it is there to tell a story and impart an experience of great magnitude and intention, to which the Coen brothers have brilliantly succeeded. All at the same time the movie is a character study on the effects of evil and innocence lost, an exploration on the themes of fate and chance, an analysis of the freedom to choose and its consequences, a reflection on evil and good as forces of society and the investigation of basic human emotions such as hope, fear, love, violence and aspiration in the face of a variety of situations.
While on a hunting trip, a sportsman Josh Brolin finds dead men and a stash of cash in the remote back country of West Texas, the result of a drug deal gone wrong. The greedy hunter takes the cash, but soon discovers that the resourceful criminal responsible for the drug deal, an outlaw named Anton Chigurh Javier Bardem , has a way of tracking the loot. The hunter thus finds that he is the hunted. Meanwhile, an aging Texas sheriff named Ed Tom Bell Tommy Lee Jones is after both the sportsman and Chigurh. The story is set in the early 1980s.To some extent, this film is a character study <more>
of Sheriff Bell, an honest lawman who is wise, observant, grounded in reality, and has a long memory. "No Country For Old Men" is really his story. He doesn't know quite what to make of the drug war that has crossed over from Mexico into Texas; it's something new for the 1980s ; and it makes a land that has always been hostile to settlers even more hostile and dangerous.The film's premise is quite simple, and the story is straightforward with minimal twists. A lot of time and care are taken with procedural actions: loading a gun, dressing a bloody wound, constructing a pole to retrieve a package from an air vent, for example. Dialogue is minimal; there's lots of silence.Overall casting and acting are impressive. I especially liked the performance of Tommy Lee Jones who seemed a natural choice for the role of Sheriff. Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin are also well cast. Several minor roles are extremely well performed, like the store owner who is asked to call a coin toss, and the rotund lady who, with a dour face, defies Chigurh's requests in a characteristic Texas twang.The film's color cinematography is quite good; there are lots of sweeping, wide-angle outdoor shots. I really enjoyed the geographic setting, with that whistling West Texas wind, the silence, and the stunning vistas. It's a landscape that is starkly beautiful. Yet, despite its beauty and wilderness traits, it can quickly turn hostile and unforgiving for anyone unprepared for its hidden risks."No Country For Old Men" is a fine film. I'd describe it as a chase story -- character study combo, with elements of noir, especially in the visuals. Violence may be a tad much for some viewers. But given the subject matter, it is entirely appropriate.
A hauntingly flawed unconventional masterpiece (by DonFishies)
Days after seeing it, I am still haunted by No Country for Old Men. There is just something so effectual and uncompromising about it, that mere words will only begin to skim the surface of the cinematic excellence on display.At its most simplistic, the film is a game of cat and mouse. The mouse here is Llewelyn Moss Josh Brolin , a hunter who stumbles upon two million in cash after a drug deal gone wrong, and takes it thinking nothing of it. He tries to cover his tracks, but ends up letting the group looking for the money, figure out his identity. The cat is Anton Chigurh Javier Bardem , a <more>
hit-man hired to find Moss and the money. But Chigurh is unconventional at best; he also happens to be bordering on mentally insane. And another man, a law man this time, Sheriff Bell Tommy Lee Jones , is on the trail of both men as they criss-cross around Texas.Right up until its dénouement, the film is simply brilliant. Taut and thrilling, it blows right through the majority of its two hour runtime with ease. Even during moments of slowing down, the film stays right on track and never feels like it has run its course. It engages even when it appears that nothing is happening. The Coen Brothers truly crafted what appears at first glance to be a masterpiece, even if it is their first real shot at something that is not indelibly and inarguably their own. Even without reading Cormac McCarthy's novel, I know that the Coens have done it justice, even with their bitterly twisted and dark sense of humour scattered throughout the film.But all of that comes to a standstill as the film concludes. The last twenty or so minutes feel like hours as the film wraps itself up, and it almost feels like these scenes belong to another movie entirely one that borders on being pretentious and monotonous . I realize now that McCarthy's novel probably ends the same way, but it does not help provide closure to the fact that the movie is so break-neck paced right up until this happens. Its brilliance is shattered by what looks to be a series of tattered events thrown together to provide closure for all of the characters, alive or dead, and for its audience. It speaks volumes to the film's title, but it just does not feel satisfying compared to the rest of what we saw. Even with its enigmatic devices at play, I still cannot come to terms with how the film closes. It does haunt, and in a way, it may prove to be a significantly stronger ending as time rolls on. But as it stands now, it just feels weak.What is also a bit of a surprise, and only seems to appear as the film concludes, is the music. It is not so obvious at first, but the majority of the film is audibly shown with just the sounds the characters make and no background music to speak of. This element is brilliantly used, as it helps intensify every situation and makes the film downright terrifying in some cases. It just helps truly make the film come together, and only helps establish the quick pacing even more so. It was definitely a surprise, and one that will probably help the lasting impact of the film become even stronger.The lush and bloodsoaked visuals also help to define the film. Despite the film taking place mainly in deserted areas, or the desert itself, the camera manages to capture just the right essence of what the writing and acting is conveying. The isolation and the terror almost become characters themselves through these visuals, and are sure to be recognized as the award season rolls in.The film's acting is also very well done. Brolin anchors the film and even when it is just the audience reacting to his attempts at saving his life, he manages to deliver the best performance of his career. He breathes life into Moss, and truly brings a sense of pathos to the character. We feel for him and his greedy mistake, and as he develops into a man unwilling to go down without a fight, he only manages to up the ante for himself countlessly. Jones, as the law man stuck on the fringe of every event, also does very well for himself. Most of his work is simply delivering dialogue, but it is delivered in such a fashionable sense that you feel like he is speaking to the bigger picture of things, and not just himself. I would have liked a bit more development in his character, but what little there is helps his performance greatly.Supporting turns from Woody Harrelson and Kelly Macdonald are also done well, but are overshadowed by the main cast by both Brolin and Jones.And even more of an overcast is Bardem as the ruthless Chigurh. He absolutely nails this character down to his very bones. If anyone is merely toying with the idea of seeing the film, it should be specifically for Bardem. His performance is calculating and plagued with petrifying silence. When he chooses to talk, his words sound like they are being given by the essence of evil. This is a man with a plan, but it is one that only belongs to him. His enigmatic presence is developed throughout the film, and never once does it feel particularly appropriate to understand where this menace comes from. Watching him on screen is a jolt to the heart, and will go down as one of the best performances of the decade. His terrible hair only helps to make his character that more scary and formidable.No Country for Old Men is one of the best pictures of the year, even if it is flawed. Its brilliance and lasting impact with leave you haunted.8.5/10.
"Well this is just a deal gone wrong, isn't it?" (by classicsoncall)
Sometimes I'll work an overnight graveyard shift like last night , and then stay up the next day making it about twenty hours straight without sleep. I'll usually catch a second wind around two o'clock in the afternoon, so figured that would be perfect to see this film with a 2:20 start time. Now I know I was fully awake for the entire movie, but when it ended, I had to question myself as to what I'd missed. With this movie's shooting star flight path to #23 on the IMDb as I write this, I thought for sure that something must have eluded me or gone completely over my head. <more>
And then I heard the comment from another theater viewer as the screen went dark - "Is it over?" At least I had company.But here's the thing. I can't really disagree with a lot of the reviewers on this board gushing the praises of this picture. The performances were riveting, the tension was unnerving, and there were scenes that come out of nowhere to knock you clear out of your seat. The character of Anton Chigurh is so unrelentingly evil that he comes off like an Earth based version of the Terminator. However when all is said and done, the randomness of the final act that brings the story to a close other than Tommy Lee Jones' dream narration , leaves the fate of Chigurh entirely unresolved. OK, so maybe real life is like that sometimes, but something MUST have happened to Chigurh after he walked away with the bone sticking out of his arm. But in this case, it's just not interesting to consider the possible alternate endings when the REAL film doesn't even give you just one.It's too bad too, because I'm a Coen Brothers fan from "Fargo", "The Big Lebowski", "O Brother Where Art Thou", and the brilliant "Miller's Crossing". They've shown themselves to be competent writers and story tellers and each of their films grab you and they don't let go until the end. This one let's you go, and you wind up saying 'I'm not ready yet'. For what it's worth, I like to think that Llewelyn's wife won the coin toss.
Minority Report on Majority Favorite (by Willemite)
No Country for Old Men was an engaging and interesting film, but I was not as taken with it as most seem to have been.Plot-wise, it is primarily a chase film. Llewellyn Moss Josh Brolin having made off with found drug money flees; psycho-killer Anton Chigurh Javier Bardem chases him; Sheriff Ed Tom Bell Tommy Lee Jones chases Anton; Carson Wells, Woody Harrelson in the employ of the money side of the drug deal, chases the money; drug dealers chase Llewellyn. Can Moss get away with the money? He concocts a devious scheme for hiding the cash, but is not clever enough to figure out soon <more>
enough how Anton can find him so easily. He is smart enough to know his wife will need protecting but then sends her to a place where she is certain to be found.Anton is a bad-hair boogie-man, in the mold of Jason, Freddie or Michael Meyers, maniacally intent on retrieving his money, determined to kill any who have wronged him or even to have gotten in his way, and willing to lay waste any unfortunate enough to be nearby. Doesn't he catch up with Llewellyn rather quicker than seems likely for anyone not blessed with symbolic DNA? Isn't it at least a little suspicious that he knows exactly what medication to take from the pharmacy, and is able to deliver exact dosages? And how about his reaction when faced with a compound fracture at the end? Grits his teeth, wraps the sucker up and walks off into the distance like any good boogie-man might. Yet he cloaks his actions under the guise of having "a code." This "code" seems to impress some of those around him. Carson Wells and the sheriff both refer to it. A code that allows a madman to kill based on a coin toss is crying out for a rewrite. That Anton takes sadistic pleasure in bullying those to whom he offers the coin only reinforces that he is a nut-job. Does fate take pleasure in our demise? Not likely. Adding personality to Anton makes him less a symbol and more of a monster. The scene in which Carla Jean refuses to play, insisting that Anton was responsible for his actions and was not merely an instrument of fate, reinforces this. A switch from the book, by the way. She accepts and loses in the novel. So is Anton a symbol for fate or just a crazy guy? Both maybe, but if so, that muddies the issues.McCarthy's an adherent to the "Life's a bitch and then you die" school, with a career-long focus on violence in human existence. He sees things getting progressively worse. The violence here is more mindless than in his prior work. The message comes across that things have changed for the worse within the last generation. That probably references the disrespect for authority that grew out of the 1960s, the growth in the drug trade that happened in the 1970s, and by implication the spectacular growth of private gun use. To see where he is going with this, I suggest reading his award winning The Road, an incredible book about a post-apocalyptic America.The Coens offer snippets of their very welcome humor. Llewellyn appearing at the border crossing in a bathrobe was wonderful as was the scene in which he appears in the same outfit at a clothing store and the clerk asks in a deadpan how the boots were working out. Woody Harrelson gets a few nice comedic lines as does Josh Brolin. While no one gets to say "I think I'm gonna barf," there are enough small yucks to lighten the overall emotional load.Could either Llewellyn or Anton bleed as much as they had and not go into shock? I don't know, but it certainly was impressive seeing them self-medicate.I liked the cinematography, the beautiful opening serenity that would play host to the high body count to come, the claustrophobia of the hotels, some very nice in-town shots looking down at the streets and storefronts.Acting-wise, Josh Brolin was perfect as the everyman who sees his opportunity and takes it, then trying to cope with the results. I would have liked to have seen him get a nomination. TLJ played, well, TLJ. It seemed to me that this is the same role he has played in many, many films. Of course, I really like TLJ, so I do not know if this is a bad thing. Kelly McDonald Carla Jean Moss earned her money for her scene with Javier Bardem. Riveting. Harrelson was fun. But I do not get what all the excitement is for Bardem. Yes, he was effective in portraying a nut-job. Should Ah-nold have gotten an Oscar nomination for his homicidal robot? That was effective too. Bardem is arguably one of the brightest acting lights of our generation. Before Night Falls and The Sea Inside show his unmistakable genius. But the role as written is confusing. Is he a symbol or a person? The role does not really offer all that much range, in my humble opinion. Yes, he is scary. He uses silence effectively. And...So what are we to take from this movie? Life is ultra-violent and tough noogies? When your number is up, your number is up? Cormac needs to get out more. One need not go along with McCarthy's dark view of life to enjoy the film, and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I am a fan of the Coens. I love their sense of humor, particularly. But I do not believe that this film is their best work. Nor do I believe that it merits a best picture nomination. I know this puts me in a minority. It is an interesting film, dark yet amusing, and I would recommend it. But somehow it is not, to my mind, at the top tier.