No Country for Old Men (2007)

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No Country for Old Men is a 2007 American crime thriller directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin. The film was adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. No Country for Old Men tells the story of an ordinary man to whom chance delivers a fortune that is not his, and the ensuing cat-and-mouse drama, as three men crisscross each other's paths in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas. Themes of fate, conscience and circumstance re-emerge that the Coen brothers have previously explored in Blood Simple and Fargo. No Country for Old Men won four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, in addition to three British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), and two Golden Globes. Critics praised it highly. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "as good a film as the Coen brothers...have ever made." The Guardian journalist John Patterson said the film proved "that the Coens' technical abilities, and their feel for a landscape-based Western classicism reminiscent of Anthony Mann and Sam Peckinpah, are matched by few living directors."

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West Texas in June 1980 is desolate, wide open country, and Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) laments the increasing violence in a region where he, like his father and grandfather before him, has risen to the office of sheriff. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), hunting pronghorn, comes across the aftermath of a drug deal gone awry: several dead men and dogs, a wounded Mexican begging for water, and two million dollars in a satchel that he takes to his trailer home. Late that night, he returns with water for the dying man, but is chased away by two men in a truck and loses his vehicle. When he gets back home he grabs the cash, sends his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) to her mother's, and makes his way to a motel in the next county. Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is a hitman who has been hired to recover the money. He has already strangled a sheriff's deputy to escape custody and stolen a car by using a captive bolt pistol to kill the driver. Now he carries a receiver that traces the money via a transponder concealed inside the satchel. Bursting into Moss' hideout at night, Chigurh surprises a group of Mexicans set to ambush Moss and murders them all. Moss, however, one step ahead, has rented the connecting room on the other side, so by the time Chigurh removes the vent cover with a dime to grab the cash, it is already back on the road with Moss. Tracking the satchel to a border town hotel, Chigurh's pursuit climaxes in a firefight with Moss that spills onto the streets, leaving both men wounded. Moss flees across the border, collapsing from his injuries before he's taken to a Mexican hospital. There Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), another hired operative, offers protection in return for the money. After Chigurh cleans and stitches his own wounds with stolen supplies, he gets the drop on Wells back at his hotel and kills him just as Moss calls the room. Picking up the call and casually raising his feet to avoid the spreading blood, Chigurh promises Moss that Carla Jean will go untouched if he gives up the money. Moss remains defiant. Moss arranges to rendezvous with his wife at a motel in El Paso to give her the money and send her out of harm's way. She reluctantly accepts Bell's offer to save her husband, but he arrives only in time to see a pickup carrying several men speeding away from the motel and Moss lying dead in his room. That night, Bell returns to the crime scene and finds the lock blown out in his suspect's familiar style. Chigurh hides behind the door of a motel room, observing the shifting light through an empty lock hole. His gun drawn, Bell enters Moss' room and notices that the vent cover has been removed with a dime and the vent is empty. Bell visits his Uncle Ellis (Barry Corbin), an ex-lawman. Bell plans to retire because he feels "overmatched," but Ellis points out that the region has always been violent. For Ellis, thinking it is "all waiting on you, that's vanity." Carla Jean returns from her mother's funeral to find Chigurh waiting in the bedroom. When she tells him she does not have the money, he recalls the pledge he made to her husband that could have spared her. The best he will offer is a coin toss for her life, but she says that the choice is his. Chigurh leaves the house alone and carefully checks the soles of his boots. As he drives away, he is injured in a car accident and abandons the damaged vehicle. Now retired, Bell shares two dreams with his wife (Tess Harper), both involving his deceased father. In the first dream he lost "some money" that his father had given him; in the second, he and his father were riding horses through a snowy mountain pass. His father, who was carrying fire in a horn, quietly passed by with his head down, "going on ahead, and fixin' to make a fire" in the surrounding dark and cold. Bell knew that when he got there his father would be waiting. "...Then I woke up."