Monday, January 28, 2008

Chigurh Hit

No Country For Old Men, Cineworld, Broad Street, Birmingham, Saturday January 26 2007, 12.15.

Set in Rio Grande in 1980, The Coen Brothers' multi-award nominated No Country For Old Men features Josh Brolin as a local ne'er-do-well Vietnam vet who stumbles upon a grisly crime scene and makes off with 2 million dollars worth of drug money. Soon on his trail are some murderous Mexicans, a cocksure Woody Harrelson and a taciturn hitman with a cattle gun and ridiculous Three Stooges moptop haircut called Anton Chigurh (played by Javier Bardem). 'It's a real mess, ain't it' states the deputy to Tommy Lee Jones' lawman, who drawls in reply, 'Well, if it ain't, it'll sure do 'til the real mess comes along'. The real mess duly obliges.

The first two thirds of this movie represents Hollywood's finest slam-dunk thriller dynamics since Scorcese's The Departed, a straightforward enough chase set-up offering up a memorable river pursuit, elaborate survivalist stunts and an explosive shootout that had your jaded jobbing-blogger jumping in his seat not once, not twice, but three times in a sequence that had the old pacemaker working overtime. So far, so exciting then, but the film slowly but surely shows its hand as having something more on its mind than mere multiplex mayhem, emerging as something of a meditation on mortality and a requiem for decency seen through the fearful eyes of a never-before-more-vulnerable looking Tommy Lee Jones' lawman. This knockout combination of visceral thrills and metaphysical dread, heightened by the Coens' trademark black humour and an odd but undeniably stunning turn by Bardem as 'the messenger of fate' marks out No Country For Old Men as a genuinely terrific must-see masterpiece.



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