No Country For Old Men (2007)

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A Texan welder stumbles across the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong and helps himself to the $2 million in cash no-one is left alive to claim; unfortunately he does not count on a single-minded psychopathic killer with a tracking device.

This film basically distils elements of all their best work and creates a cold and cynical statement on the state of man. Javier Bardem’s character is the most chilling and amoral character you will ever see; on more than one occasion he reminded me of a terminator with bad hair, except more cold-blooded. The pursuit of the stolen money just leads to bloodshed and tragedy for all involved, many innocents dying for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The underlying theme is the randomness of life; good things do not happen to good people and there is no karmic “masterplan”. This means that the ending may leave some feeling a little cheated because things aren’t tied up nicely into a complete and satisfying package in the way so many stories are conventionally presented. But the journey there is as gripping as anything you are going to see; it has the tension, brooding atmosphere and cynicism of Blood Simple, the pragmatic investigation by a dismayed lawman in a similar way to Fargo and the style and brutal violence of Miller’s Crossing. The shoot out between Bardem and Josh Brolin is one of the best I’ve ever seen, reminding me of Michael Mann meets Peckinpah with a dash of Assault On Precinct 13.

It is a case of the journey being better than the destination, but any Coen brothers fan will not be disappointed; they are back to their best.

9/10

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