Tuesday, June 1, 2021

No Country for Old Men

Another of the movies that I had the chance to record during one of the free preview weekends is No Country for Old Men. It's going to be on various of the Showtime channels over the next week, starting tonight at midnight on Showtime Extreme and again tomorrow at 12:45 PM on Showtime Showcase.

It's 1980 in west Texas. A sheriff's deputy has just arrested Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), telling the sheriff about some odd device that looks like an oxygen cylinder with something attached to it. As we'll see later, it's one of those stun/kill guns they use on cattle in abattoirs to kill them as humanely as possible, but Anton doesn't use it here, instead using his handcuffs to garrotte the deputy and escape, going on to kill anybody who gets in his way.

Meanwhile, further away from civilization, Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is hunting, but his shot only wounds one of the animals, so he has to go down to track the animal. He finds blood that's not from the animal he shot, and following that blood, he runs into a drug deal gone wrong, where everybody shot everybody else to death, although one of the guys hasn't finished dying yet. A voice in Llewellyn's head should have told him to get the hell out of there, but he pokes around and finds both the drugs and the money from a drug deal gone wrong. Unlike movies like Stakeout on Dope Street where the characters take the drugs, Llewellyn takes the money back to his trailer and his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald).

As I said, he should have realized danger was coming. The men responsible for the cash put a transponder in the bag that was carrying it, and Llewellyn never thought to switch the money into a different bag, although I suppose it would have been ironic had he switched it into a plaid overnight bag of the sort everybody had in What's Up, Doc?. Further, he stupidly goes back to try to help the one guy who hadn't yet died, and it's only then that it finally hits him just how much danger he's in. He sends his wife off to her mom, while he tries to escape with the money long enough to figure out what to do and get back to Carla Jean.

Of course, the authorities find both the dead sheriff's deputy, another guy who got shot at the side of the road, and the drug deal. Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who comes from a long line of law enforcement officers, is on the case, and it doesn't take him long to figure out that Llewellyn is involved. However, he can't figure out who's chasing Moss, and what's causing all of the odd damage. And Anton is chasing Llewellyn all over west Texas and into Mexico....

No Country for Old Men is a brutal, unremittingly violent movie. But at the same time, most of it is compelling viewing, with the possible exception of a couple of scenes at the beginning and end with Sheriff Bell philosophizing. Javier Bardem is excellent as the cold-blooded Chigurh, and the story works extremely well. Obviously, with all the violence, it won't be for everybody, but for those who are OK with violence in their movies, it's one that absolutely should be seen.

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