No Country for Old Men (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

As I sit here and write this review, no more than ten hours ago Joel and Ethan Coen were on stage in Hollywood, CA accepting their second Oscar of the night (the first for Best Adapted Screenplay) and would soon be joined by Producer Scott Rudin to accept the Best Picture Academy Award. The Coen brothers have been making some of the most risky and, dare I say it, original, movies for the last couple of decades and it’s about time they got their due. Films like “Fargo”, “Blood Simple” and “Miller’s Crossing” have all become ingrained in our culture that we forget that there’s two brilliant writer/directors behind them all. That’s not to say they’re infallible and with a few recent efforts like “The Ladykillers” and “Intolerable Cruelty” weren’t really up to the standard that some of their earlier films were. One thing is for sure, though, the stories are original and do make a statement one way or another. With “No Country for Old Men” we get perhaps one of the most sinister on-screen villains sine Hannibal Lectar and a storyline that crawls along at a snails pace. There’s nothing wrong with the speed of the film, naturally, and the movie is a character study if there ever was one but like most of the Coen brother’s films, it will most likely polarize viewers.

“No Country for Old Men” takes place in the desolate and barren wasteland that is West Texas. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a man of meager existence, happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or the right place at the right time, depending on your point of view) and stumbles across a slaughter of a drug deal gone wrong. He assumes that where there are dead bodies and drugs, there’s money. He’s correct. He stumbles across a case containing $2 million dollars and its all downhill from there. Llewelyn is smart, but not that smart. He returns to the scene of the crime only to be ambushed and nearly killed. And hot on his trail is Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardiem), a merciless killer who will stop at nothing to complete his mission. Anton is an outsider, trying to fit in but clearly doesn’t and it’s no secret that Bardiem’s Oscar-winning performance is what really makes this movie tick. The narrator is a third major character in Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) who’s always one step behind and trying to piece the puzzle together. Will he be too late to save Llewelyn or can he bring justice to West Texas?

I watched “No Country for Old Men” with very little expectation. Quite frankly all I knew of the movie before I popped it in the Blu-ray player was that Bardiem had one o the worst movie haircuts I can remember. As it turns out, that’s not the focus of the film but rather the amazing performances in it. The Coen brothers have adapted yet another of Cormac McCarthy’s novels into a very vivid and memorable movie. While its arguable that this may not be the Coen’s best movie, it’s certainly one of the year’s best and I had no problem with it taking home top honors at the Oscars. Love em or hate em you have to admit that the Coen’s are making some of the most talked about and original movies in Hollywood and I think it’s high time that they were finally given proper recognition.

Video: How does it look?

“No Country for Old Men” is shown in a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that really conveys the sense of isolation. Shot on location in West Texas, the palette is about as barren as it comes with earthy and natural hues dominating the screen. There are a few shots at night that look like they had a bit of artfacting to them but nothing that really compromised the integrity of the transfer as a whole. Flesh tones seemed very warm and natural and I’m sorry to say that we can see nearly each individual hair on Bardiem’s mop-topped scalp. This Blu-ray is about what we’d expect for a new to DVD movie and though it’s not perfect by any means, it’s pretty darn close.

Audio: How does it sound?

The soundtrack isn’t one that is all too memorable and as I mentioned above, the movie moves at a snails pace full of juicy dialogue. That said, the dialogue sounds very strong and though the surrounds don’t come into play too often, when they do it’s memorable. There are several instances of gunshots and even a few cars blowing up here and there and I have to admit that it took me by surprise as to how robust these scenes sounded. While the typical action/adventure movie (which this movie is not) might use more of the speakers, it’s how they’re used and “No Country for Old Men” uses them very wisely.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unfortunately, we don’t get much in the supplements department, a trio of featurettes that focus on the Coen’s and their unique way of bringing stories to the scene. The other a bit on adapting the story and a third on the weapons used in the movie. I would expect to see a more robust version later this year given the film’s honors but for the time being, this will certainly please viewers.

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