Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 51
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WHERE DID ALL THAT MONEY COME FROM?!: Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin, not shown) shows his wife Carla Jean (Kelly MacDonald) a suitcase filled with 2 million dollars cash that he found at the scene of a drug deal that went bad.

No Country for Old Men: Hit Man, Hunter, and Sheriff Match Wits in Well-Crafted Movie

Kam Williams

While hunting antelope in the desert along the Rio Grande border, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon the recent gory remains of a drug deal gone bad. Although the ground is littered with bullet-riddled corpses and one badly wounded Mexican, the intrepid Vietnam veteran strides right into the crime scene, pokes around, and finds a pickup truck packed with heroin and containing a suitcase stuffed with two million dollars.

Seizing the money, Llewelyn rushes home to share the windfall with his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald). However, his conscience gets the better of him and he decides to go back to check on the condition of the gun battle’s sole survivor. There he runs into an ambush by gangsters who are looking for their loot.

Because Llewelyn has to escape on foot, he realizes that it’s just a matter of time before both the crooks and the authorities trace the truck he left behind back to him. Out of concern for his wife’s safety, he sends her out of town to stay with her mother until the smoke clears while he prepares for the inevitable confrontation.

Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is also looking for the heroin and cash. He is a sadistic sociopath who won’t hesitate to murder anyone standing between him and the money. At the point of departure, we find this unsavory character in police custody, although he quickly strangles a deputy and escapes in the officer’s patrol car.

Knowing that Anton is out to find Llewelyn, Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) — who is close to retiring — joins the chase. Bothered by the fact that a known sadist who enjoys torturing his victims is on a killing spree, the sheriff wants to resolve this one last case before retiring. However, as the body count increases, it becomes clear that Llewelyn and Sheriff Bell are up against more than they bargained for in the search for the trigger-happy hit man.

What ensues is a nerve-wracking cat-and-mouse story guaranteed to keep you in suspense to the end of the film. Based on Cormac McCarthy’s best seller of the same name, No Country for Old Men is a modern-day Western overlaid with elements of a psychological thriller.

As adapted by Ethan and Joel Coen, the movie unfolds against the backdrop of sumptuous big sky panoramas. However, what makes the film memorable is the trio of powerful performances turned in by the three principal actors.

Javier Bardem steals the show as perhaps the most unnerving screen villain of the year, a monster who doesn’t hesitate to hold a cattle gun to his victims’ heads while flipping a coin to determine who lives and who dies. Almost as engaging are Tommy Lee Jones — who portrays a reflective gunslinger eager to retire — and Josh Brolin, who is a morally compromised rogue on the run caught up in a hellish situation.

Expect this movie to be remembered at Oscar time, in spite of an enigmatic ending reminiscent of Blow Up.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated R for profanity and graphic violence. Running time: 122 minutes. Studio: Miramax Films.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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