Based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy, this is a wry, metaphorical tale of three macho men: the good guy, the bad guy and the poor Vietnam vet who gets caught in-between, never realizing the fatalistic ramifications of his greed.
Back in the 1980s in the barren desert of the West Texas-Mexico border, a deer hunter, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), wanders into the bullet-ridden detritus of a drug convoy shootout and picks up a satchel containing $2.4 million, never realizing theres a tracking device hidden in the cash.
After sending his wife (Kelly Macdonald) to the safety of her mothers home, Moss is relentlessly pursued by a mysterious, diabolically deadpan assassin, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), who psychologically tortures his victims before dispatching them with a cattle stun gun. Chigurhs train of bloody carnage has attracted the attention of veteran sheriff Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who is ready to retire, discouraged by the ever-increasing narcotics crime and its attendant lack of respect and courtesy.
Any time you quit hearing Sir and Mam, the end is pretty much in sight, he muses.
Writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen (Blood Simple, Fargo) incorporate their trademark black comedic touches into this suspenseful, often confusing contemporary Western, as Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem (with a haircut off Dutch-Boy paint cans or Prince Valiant cartoons) deliver three of the most memorable screen performances this year.
Several weeks ago, A.O. Scott in the New York Times ruminated on the lasting influence of the graphic violence in Arthur Penns 1967 Bonnie and Clyde; its reflected here in Roger Deakins photography. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, No Country For Old Men is a brutal, intense 9. Its an enigmatic, metaphysical mindgame.