Mladen and Del review ‘No Country for Old Men’

“No Country for Old Men” Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly MacDonald. 122 minutes. Rated R.

Mladen’s take

The most interesting part of “No Country for Old Men” comes at the end of the film during the credits.

The film’s makers claim, “This is a carbon neutral production: 100% of carbon emissions offset with Native Energy.”

Dang, what a bold, confident statement. How did producers know the movie is carbon-neutral with such certainty? Did they calculate the oil- or natural gas- or coal-based energy it took to train the animals in the film? Or the noxious, atmosphere-heating gases produced by a burning car? Or using blanks in the silencer-equipped, 12-gauge shotgun wielded by the delightfully remorseless killer portrayed by Javier Bardem?

“No Country for Old Men” is a good movie, regardless of its carbon-neutrality. Why it got the nod for best motion picture of the year is beyond me, though.

It’s a slick film with Texas’ austere plains and mountains as backdrop. Dialogue is good and all of the characters interesting but “No Country for Old Men” is, essentially, little more than a shoot ’em up movie. The plot is tired, despite the penumbra of some hifalutin philosophical talk and events looking at the way fate plays with mankind.

“No Country for Old Men” lacks the dastardly humor of the Coen brothers’ “Fargo” or the flippant violence in “Raising Arizona,” which are better films.

If you go to a video store and “No Country for Old Men” is rented, don’t worry; it’s not a must-see despite its credentials.

Del’s take

Like Mladen asked, “No Country for Old Men” was a good movie but was it worthy of an Oscar?

Maybe in a weak year. Apparently 2007 was just such a year.

In “No Country for Old Men,” Josh Brolin stumbles across a drug deal gone bad. He makes off with the cash. Meanwhile, the druggies hire Javier Bardem to track him down. Tommy Lee Jones is the sheriff who seems to be one step behind the bad guys – on purpose.

The visuals are excellent. Dialogue is excellent. Performances range from good to excellent – I wasn’t impressed by Brolin’s interpretation of the Llewelyn Moss character but Bardem truly deserved an Oscar for his portrayal of killer Anton Chigurh.

I’m not sure what to make of the movie’s overall subtext. I mean, clearly it meant to say: The country has gone to hell in a hand-basket. Bardem’s character is a killer who attributes his amorality to fate, an easy balm for the conscience. Jones’ character is easily understandable as the reluctant sheriff who only wants to survive until retirement. But dirty deeds done dirt cheap have been with us a long, long time, and I’m not sure you can attribute them to Mom and Dad letting Britney dye her hair green.

Bardem is T-boned in an accident that leaves a bone protruding from his arm. He buys the shirt off a teenaged boy’s back and uses it to make a sling. Then he walks away from the accident as sirens wail in the distance. Is this an illustration of the amorality of fate, or a kind of karmic balancing of the equation?

“No Country for Old Men” doesn’t answer that question, and I think that’s where it falls short.

I would say watch it and make your own judgment.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical editor. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.