No Country for Old Men

Starring Tommy Lee Jones as Ed Tom Bell (the old sheriff longing for the good old days when crime made sense), Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss (the cowboy who finds the money) and Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh (the stoic bad guy).

The psychotic killer plot has been done so many times that, had I known this movie's general plot beforehand, i wouldn't have been so eager to see it. Even so, No Country for Old Men is the most original psycho-killer movie I have ever seen. The Coen brothers constructed their film around an unassumingly unpredictable plot. If the task of making this movie had been given to a lesser director (such as Quentin Tarantino), he would have blasted out something over-the-top rather than original.

Did you notice how much No Country looked and felt like The Way of the Gun (starring Ryan Phillipe and Benicio Del Toro)? Same heap of money driving people crazy. Same disregard for human life from similarly stoic gunmen.

The theme of No Country is "nothing is as it should be." The people you think should live end up dying. The good guys can't even come close to catching the bad guy. Old men lament about the deplorable state of crime compared to the "good old days" when murder made sense.

The bad guy, Chigurh (pronounced "Shu-GAR") has a clear conscience about his serial killing; that's why he's so good at it. He channels his audacity into a clear-headed shrewdness that makes him impossible to catch. Chigurh is also more dedicated to his murderous trade than anyone else is dedicated to their trade, therefore he wins.

Power is also a theme throughout No Country for Old Men.

Chigurh observes that his victims like saying "You don't have to do it" just before he does "it" (shoots them). Its true, he has a choice, but he is so callused by his murdering lifestyle that he can no longer acknowledge such a simple truth. Murder has so thoroughly twisted his mind that he believes killing is his calling. This is why he is the "right tool" for certain jobs."

Chigurh kills almost everyone he meets, however sometimes he gives people the chance to live by tossing a coin... if they call it correctly then he lets them live. This is a failure to take responsibility for himself or it is a misguided power-trip.

The man in the convenience store called the toss correctly; we might credit his continued living to chance. However even the coin toss was Chigurh's choice. There's always a choice. God gives all people the power to choose. A man such as Chigurh is no more powerful than his victims (though he would like to think differently). All people have a purposefully limited sphere of influence which they can exercise during their limited lifespans.

The "old men" from this movie feel helpless and rightly so. The world around them is spinning out of control and there's nothing than can do about it.

Will we never improve? Will we spin out of control more and more until humanity detonates itself? Is there any point of reference for sanity or Power that might turn us around?

The world will continue to deteriorate. Everything will eventually be destroyed. But there will always be One who is eternally dependable, merciful and (thankfully) set apart from this fleeting existence.

So there is a country for old men; it's just not a physical country.

I will now tell you how to save your respective country as well as the whole world: Fall down before God and beg Him for mercy for yourself as well as the whole world.

When we comprehend our humble state before God for the first time we feel powerless, which is a good place to start. God uses the knowledge of death to shock some sense into our hearts and minds and introduce us to His Son. This is God's redemptive genius. The knowledge of death makes life seem pointless, but God uses the knowledge of death as a tool for saving people.

God has to reason with us on a primitive level to bring us around to accepting His grace. Then, once we see the Light, as it were, He teaches us a new, unexpected quality of power.


Rey Marz said...

I agree, a director like Tarantino probably would've bungled this one with way too much clutter. The starkness really works well here, making it more intense somehow.

I don't hear this much from reviewers, but when you have movie like this without any soundtrack (no music!) and it still captures its audience, well, then, you definitely have something powerful.

Anonymous said...

Wow, was there no music? Maybe it's a side effect of being a musician, but I very often get annoyed over myself thinking so much about the music when I watch movies, and now I didn't even notice there was none!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you in saying that the movie was awesome. I totally loved it!