DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

No Country for Old Men, Blu-ray (2008)

The most hard-hitting film the Coen Brothers have made, and surely their most violent.

Published on February 22, 2008

No Country for Old Men, Blu-ray (2008)
No Country for Old Men, Blu-ray (2008)

Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson
Studio: Miramax 55962 [Release date: March 11]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 widescreen, 1080p HD
Audio: English uncompressed 5.1 PCM (48/24); English DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: “Working with the Coens,” “The Making of…,” “Diary of a Country Sheriff,” several previews
Length: 122 minutes
Rating: *****

Sure to get something at the upcoming Academy Awards, this is the most hard-hitting film the Coens have made, and surely their most violent.  However it’s not a breathless action film, but takes many long and quiet looks at the arid, forbidding countryside of West Texas and its effect on some of the hapless people in the story. The three main characters represent a sort of balance in the cat-and-mouse game at the core of the drama. Llewelyn is the Vietnam vet in the center who stumbles on a drug-related shootout in the desert which has left several men and dogs dead, and discovers the attaché case containing $2 million which the gunfire was over.

He goes on the lam trying to get to Mexico, but takes a while to discover that inside the case is a tracking transmitter which has brought the totally unprincipled and eerie Chigurh to his hotel room door.  Chigurh’s weapons include a slaughterhouse cattle gun and a shotgun with a silencer on it, and he has no compunction about killing anyone he encounters on this way to recovering the money. At the other end of the main trio – and trying to protect Llewelyn and his wife – is beginning-to-retire, goodhearted Sheriff Bell, a world-weary WWII vet.  Some aspects of the film involving Chigurh are almost like a classic horror film, while there are also threads of film noir and Westerns in the Coens’ treatment of the novel by Cormac McCarthy – all with the brothers’ patented twist on minimalism. My only disappointment was the film’s conclusion – seemingly very unfinished – but perhaps that’s just me.  The three featurettes in the extras (described as 480i High Definition – where do they get that?) are definitely worth viewing, though in SD.

- John Sunier
 




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