There Are No Clean Getaways... Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) finds a pickup truck surrounded by a sentry of dead men with a load of heroin and two million dollars in cash still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law - in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) - can contain.
As Moss tries to evade his pursuers - in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives (Javier Bardem) - the film simultaneously strips down the American crime drama and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning's headlines.
There are a couple of areas where this movie really shines. The first is the acting. All three leads including Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin really are superb, although their screen time is almost exclusively telling their own story with only a couple of moments where they share any screen time. Javier Bardem is haunting in is portrayal of the psychopathic killer and every time he appears on screen you'll get chills. While Tommy Lee Jones is as good as ever as the sheriff it's Josh Brolin that steals the show for me as a man down on his luck who has, what he thinks, is a little fortune.
Besides the main cast though it's the supporting actors that help bring this movie to life with great characters. Woody Harrelson puts in a fine turn as the bounty hunter Carson Wells and Kelly Macdonald is superb as Moss's wife Carla.
No Country for Old Men isn't a movie for everyone. It is somewhat violent, but not in the typical glorified 'Hollywood' style. This is more realistic - you only need to see the strangulation early in the movie to realise that. That is a rare occurrence though as, in actual fact, most of the deaths aren't seen on screen, but only the aftermath.
There were a couple of things that had me a little confused during this movie (minor spoilers ahead - skip to next paragraph if you don't want to know). While I can understand hiding the case full of money in the air vents in the hotel, I'm not sure how Moss knew he would need to change rooms, thus necessitating tying the string to the case to pull it through with the grappling hook. Why not just take the case to the second room to start with? Also, there are a couple of occasions when the 'action' seems to end abruptly with characters failing to pursue their foes as one would expect, especially as they are injured - case in point being when Moss shoots Anton. The ending too is somewhat abrupt, very in fact, and while things seem rather open-ended they are actually all closed off nicely. Still, I can see that some people won't like this ending.
No doubt about it the script, acting and direction in this movie is superb. At times gripping, at other frightening, and at others delightful No Country For Old Men really is a fantastic movie. Why then don't I award it all the praise that I can? Well to be honest it's not the most entertaining movie. I have seen it twice now, and it's unlikely that I would watch it more then very occasionally again.
In terms of issues, and this really is nitpicking, there is the very occasional change in the level of grain evident - particularly in the darker scenes - and the occasional scene that seems to demonstrate a slight reduction in sharpness. Very small issues in an otherwise gorgeous transfer.
Despite not stating it on the technical specs on the back of the case we can confirm that No Country For Old Men includes an uncompressed Linear PCM 5.1 track encoded at 4.6Mbps as well as the stated Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps.
The PCM track is certainly the track of choice with a little more clarity, and even in the opening monologue from Tommy Lee a little more depth and clarity to his voice. Music throughout the movie is pretty subdued, and there aren't a lot of audio effects such as explosions or gunshots either, but what is there is very impactful. Dialogue is for the most part very clear however there was the odd line which I found a little hard to understand due to accents - a fault of the original film rather then the transfer that's for sure. Also an issue with the source is a lack of surround sound use at times - it could have been ramped up a little I felt.
We must point out that the French, German, Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are not included on this disc as stated on the back of the box - we suspect they gave way for the English PCM track. No loss for me, but for some it may be worth nothing. Likewise the number of subtitles is massively reduced from what is stated on the case. Instead of the 16 languages stated on the case we actually only have English for the Hearing Impaired, French and Spanish.
Working With The Coens (8:07): A look at the Coen Brothers, Ethan and Joel, and what it is like working with them with interviews with the cast. While a little 'praising' it's clear that the actors enjoyed and respected working with the Coen's.
Diary Of A Country Sheriff (6:44): A short look at the role of a country sheriff. Somewhat unnecessary and too brief to hold any real detail.
Review By: Dave Warner