No Country For Old Men (15)

PUBLISHED: 11:20 29 February 2008 | UPDATED: 13:13 24 August 2010

No Country For Old Men (15) The talents of the Cohen Brothers (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Fargo) and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy are a

No Country For Old Men (15)

The talents of the Cohen Brothers (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Fargo) and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy are a winning combination in this tense, atmospheric thriller that's as beautiful as it is tragic.

Similar in style and theme to their award-winning 1996 effort Fargo, but without its stinging dark humor, No Country For Old Men is a slow- burning yet deftly paced tale of murder and mayhem in a small Texan border town in 1980.

The trouble kicks off when hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon some dead bodies, a truckload of heroin and a case containing $2million in cash near the Rio Grande.

When he decides to take the money, it makes him the prime target of murderous psychopath Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem, terrifyingly

superb) who, armed with an unnerving bolt-gun (normally used for killing cattle), will stop at nothing to reclaim it.

This triggers a violent cat and mouse game that stretches from Texas to Mexico (and back again) leaving an ever-increasing pile of bodies in its wake, as well as a disillusioned, about-to-retire Sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones, again in award-winning form) convinced of the fact that he is powerless to stop the brutal wave of lawlessness that has

taken over his turf.

An impossibly faithful adaptation of McCarthy's acclaimed novel, down to the word in most instances, the film engages you from the minute Chigurh's first victim hits the floor in the opening scenes and doesn't let up until the final blood is spilled.

The Cohen's masterfully use the overwhelming remoteness and peacefulness of the Texas countryside as a contrasting backdrop to the relentless pace of the bloody manhunt, which makes the film's 122- minute duration fly by.

It's to their credit, too, that despite the high body count and the nature of the beast that is Chigurh, the gore is kept to a minimum, with the real horror here derived from the killer's creeping pursuit of, and chillingly calm interplay with his victims.

The acting is first-rate is first-rate all round: an understated Jones is heartbreakingly convincing as the powerless lawmen who can do nothing but follow the blood trail, Brolin delivers a career best performance, and Bardem's steely-eyed portrayal delivers one of the most amoral, evil psychopaths the big screen has seen for years.

Don't miss it.

Damian Tully-Pointon

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