No Country for Old Men (2007) [Blu-Ray]
|Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Thriller / Western|
|Miramax, Paramount Vantage || R - 122 minutes - $34.99 || March 11, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-03-22|
Writer(s): Cormac McCarthy (novel); The Coen Brothers (adapted by)
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson
Theatrical Release Date: November 21, 2007
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(Short synopsis from back cover) Acclaimed filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen deliver their most gripping and ambitious film yet in this super-charged action thriller. When a man stumbles on a bloody crime scene and two million dollars in irresistible cash, his decision to take the money sets off an unstoppable chain reaction of violence.
The Coen Brothers are at it again, this time with Cormac MacCarthy’s book, No Country for Old Men. A movie nominated for multiple Awards, winning 4, and going on to what some people say is the Coen Brothers best work. I have never really been a big fan of their work, only really enjoying Fargo and the cult classic The Big Lebowski, but have gone on to watch of all their films, even some of their panned films like The Lady Killers. Since I didn’t follow the film at all in theaters I had no idea what to expect, nor what the film was really even about until I sat down and watched the movie on Blu-ray. I decided to review the film without even reading the synopsis on the back cover and jumping right into what I now consider to be an above average film, but nothing that would garner it the attention it received.
The film stars Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss who works as a welder and lives with his wife, Carla Jean (Kelly MacDonald) who appears to live a fairly uninteresting life until the day he stumbles upon $2 Million dollars and causes a series events that forms the basis of the movie. While hunting what I believe to be Antelopes, Moss discovers an apparent drug deal gone awry. Several dead bodies and dogs later, he stumbles about a Hispanic badly injured in a truck begging for water. Moss seems to ignore him, steals a gun, and walks away. Soon after he spots a man slumped over a tree with a small satchel filled with to the brim with neatly stacked bills which he takes and goes home. Feeling remorse for leaving the Hispanic man out there, he gets together a jug and water to bring back to him late at night. He soon discovers the man is missing and notices someone has parked next to him on the hill and quickly takes cover. Some slashed tires and a few gunshots later he quickly finds himself in a river swimming away from the unidentified shooters and their dog.
Back at his house he tells his wife to pack and leave town while he escapes with the money. We were already introduced briefly at the start of the film to the sociopath killer Chigurh (Javier Bardem). What follows for the next 90 or so minutes is a dangerous cat and mouse game between Moss and Chigurh with a few causalities thrown in for good measure. I won’t go too much into detail of the film but will touch on a few points.
First being Moss is a complete idiot in the film. He manages to get away with $2 Million dollars and then decides to go back to help out someone who was near death when he first met him, and now 6-8 hours later he expects him to still be alive and only needing some water. Moss could have avoided just about everything had he chosen not to go back and help the guaranteed to be dead drug dealer out. Introduced a bit later in the film is a tracking device inside the satchel cut into a stack of bills. I don’t understand why at no point, even when apparently giving his wife some money to leave town, he did not go through and at least look and admire the amount of windfall he has now come into. Instead he chooses to keep the money in the same satchel for the entire movie. Knowing he is being chased and hunted, he continues to carry around a fairly distinctive satchel in broad daylight where not only the potential killers could see, but would be an easy thing for anyone to steal. A simple switch to a duffel bag could have solved all his problems and he could have been long gone before Chigurh even knew.
My second issue is with Tommy Lee’s character, Sheriff Ed Bell. I understand fully that the movie should be revolving around him, but I found his performance boring and painful to watch. I found myself looking away from the screen nearly every time he was on screen wondering when it would get back to the action of Moss outwitting Chigurh. The main issue I believe is Sheriff Bell is hardly in the first two acts of the film but them is thrust into the limelight during the third act of the film, for an obvious. Personally I would rate the film a bit higher if his character was eliminated altogether and added more scenes with Chigurh. I’m sure not a lot of people will agree with this, but that is my take on his character. The last issue is with the off screen death of a character. I won’t ruin it for those people who have yet to watch the film, but I was incredibly ticked off to find a certain character was killed, off screen, with no real explanation given. I had to draw my own conclusion to what happened and it made the whole cat and mouse game seem pointless. It is at this point the film starts to focus more on the Sheriff Bell character, which as you read above, I found to be very boring and bland.
While I do have a few faults with the film, its strongest point is Javier Bardem’s character Anton Chigurh. His character is by far, one of THE best sociopathic killer’s I have ever seen in a film. Every line he delivers is captivating, his mop top haircut is frighteningly spooky, and the things he does in the film will absolutely blow your mind (literally). For nearly the entire film he carries around with him a pneumatic air gun, which he uses to kill his victims with or blow off locks on doors. The scene where Chigurh is in the gas station with the attendant is absolutely creepy and is guaranteed to bring a shiver to your body. I can’t remember the last time a film actually made my palms sweat with fear.
All Special Features on this Blu-ray disc are presented in SD 480p.
The Making of No Country for Old Men (23:22) – By far the first special feature is the best... but its still very much like the other two you will be watching. Still this is pretty interesting and gives us some insights on to what happened on set and such.
Working with the Coens (8:06) – Sigh. A typical fluff piece on how awesome it was working with the Coen Brothers. Much like the featurette above and below, its film footage mixed with various interviews and back patting.
Diary of a Country Sheriff (6:44) – A very short featurette that is mixed with footage from the films and some of the various cast members. It gives a little bit of a better perspective of Sheriff Bell’s character, but I was hoping for a bit more. I am a bit disappointed in the special features for this Blu-ray release. For something that was hailed by many as the best movie of the year, the lack of special features just screams for a future double-dip. No deleted scenes? No commentary? No trailer? Everything in SD? I was hoping to get at least one Blu-ray exclusive feature or at least all the features in HD but was let down.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
No Country for Old Men is presented in its OAR 2.35:1 encoded in delicious 1080p/AVC. By far this is one of Blu-rays finest releases to date. Everything looks stunning. Blacks are Black. Colors have a nice warmth to them. Picture is vibrant. Miramax did such an amazing job with this release that other studios really need to step it up in the future just to be on the same level as No Country for Old Men. No edge enhancement, artifacting... nothing. I was simply blown away by picture and this is definitely demo material. ****ľ / *****
For the audio we have English 5.1 Uncompressed PCM 5.1 (48 kHz / 24-bit), English 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. I was not as impressed with the audio as I was with the video, but it’s a decent track with a few great scenes. The gunshots sound great as does Chigurh’s weapons when he shoots. It’s a got a nice “thuNK” sound to it. Would I call this demo material like the video? No. But a decent track with a few amazing scenes. ***˝ / *****
Overall I believe the film does not deserve all the praise it received. Javier Barden absolutely deserves the award he won for Best Supporting Actor, but everything else may be a bit too much. It’s a great movie, no doubt about it, but much like my fellow reviewer Brian Oliver wrote in his review of the DVD version, I was underwhelmed with nearly all the films in 2007. There were only a few great films (and Zodiac would be my 2007 pick for best), and while this certainly is one, it would not be in my Top 5. The Picture quality is stunning, the audio is alright and the special features just plain suck. If you enjoyed the film and own a Blu-ray player, then by all means get this Blu-ray disc. Just don’t expect to be wowed by the special features.