The Coen Bros. return after a three year hiatus with a return to their crime/thriller roots that made them famous in the first place. An adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, it is one part reflection on our disintegrating society and one part cat and mouse chase thriller, with the cat and mouse part working beautifully.
Tommy Lee Jones’ Sheriff Bell opens the movie with a monologue about how his whole family has tried to make the world better by being sheriff’s and we continue to hear his thoughts on what he has done as we go along. Jones is superb here, as good as or better than In the Valley of Elah also released this year, providing the wisdom and the lighter side of the film, injecting some wry and dark humor into it all. He is investigating the incidents that the two main protagonists are involved in and slowly becomes more and more wrapped up into the bigger plot.
Now to get to that plot, Josh Brolin plays Llewelyn Moss a retired welder that stumbles upon a drug deal gone terribly wrong. Mexican bodies riddle the desert and with a bit of tracking Moss stumbles across two million dollars. Little does he know, that “the ultimate badass” Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is tracking the money as well, and will kill everyone in his way to get there. The game of cat and mouse begins, jumping from one hotel to another, and to tell you more would ruin the incredible mood and suspense that this film delivers. Every scene is just so good and leaves you anticipating, desperately, what is going to happen.
The film looks beautiful, shot by one of my favorite cinematographers Roger Deakins, and really sets the mood and tension of the film. There are also some great supporting roles as well by Woody Harrelson who is hired to try and stop Chigurh’s blood bath by the people who hired him, Kelly McDonald as Llewelyn’s wife, and Garret Dillahunt as Deputy Wendell.
Up until a certain point in this movie I was ready to consider it for the best of the year so far, but even though the events that happen are justified, I couldn’t help but be rubbed the wrong way. And the ending is going to make quite a few people unhappy, “the suck for ending it that way” was my Dad’s quote, but after further reflection the way it ends isn’t a cop out by any means and is just the end to this story we have watched for two hours. Just because the ending leaves you feeling one way that you might not jive with, doesn’t mean that it is a bad ending. I am also sure that after another viewing or two it will be a bit easier to swallow.
Anyways, this is a great, suspenseful movie and should be seen by anyone that enjoys the Coen Bros. work or is interested in a gritty crime drama. This ranks right up with the brother team’s best work.