The Coen brothers have been amazing us with their unique brand of story telling for nearly 40 years, and have expertly subverted audience expectations with every movie they’ve put out since 1984. Not only did they make us laugh hysterically with off-the-wall films like Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art Thou, and The Big Lebowski, they truly flexed their dramatic muscles with 2007’s Josh Brolin starring No Country for Old Men, which can be streamed right now on Paramount+.
Though this film is unmistakably a Coen brothers film, it boasts a number of unique traits that sets it apart from the rest of their impressive filmography and is worthy of your undivided attention.
Josh Brolin stars in No Country for Old Men, a Coen brothers classic based on a Cormac McCarthy novel.
Based faithfully on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, this Josh Brolin starring film is a tense, violent, and slow-burning crime epic that will leave you speechless upon its conclusion. While we’ve all seen similar cat-and-mouse story lines play out before No Country for Old Men‘s release, the Coen brothers single-handedly reinvented the crime thriller genre in a way that’s impossible to replicate. In other words, the plot arrives to the logical conclusion that one would expect, but the journey between the opening and closing credits will leave you at the edge of your seat the entire time.
The plot for No Country for Old Men is straightforward, but flawlessly executed.
We’re introduced to three characters, and their intersecting stories are quickly thrust upon us. We’re first introduced to Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh, a sociopath hitman whose weapon of choice is an air-powered captive bolt pistol, who is hired to recover a briefcase containing two million dollars after a drug deal has gone wrong. Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss happens upon the briefcase first and quickly has to go into hiding after being pursued by two men who are also trying to ambush him for the briefcase.
Alongside Josh Brolin, No Country for Old Men features Javier Bardem as the iconic villain and Tommy Lee Jones as an aging lawman.
Tommy Lee Jone’s Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is thrown into the mix after investigating Chigurh’s breaking and entering into Moss’ home, and from this point forward the story is fully established. We quickly learn how calculating and menacing Javier Bardem’s Chigurh is in his pursuit of the briefcase, and it’s made evident when you consider how little he hesitates to execute anybody who gets in his way. But Josh Brolin’s Moss is able to stay one step ahead, and is able to evade Chigurh long enough to figure out his next steps, and ensure his wife’s safety while he’s on the run.
As by the numbers the plot of this Josh Brolin film may sound, it’s the strong characterization that sets No Country for Old Men apart from its contemporaries. At least we’ve never seen a film antagonist as menacing as Anton Chigurh, who finds enjoyment in determining the fate of his subjects over a simple coin-toss. We’ve seen Tommy Lee Jones do the coin-toss-death-wager thing in 1995’s Batman Forever, but compared to No Country for Old Men you might as well be watching My Little Pony.
What truly sets No Country for Old Men apart from other suspense-driven films is its notable lack of spoken dialogue and film score. This isn’t to say that Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, and Javier Bardem don’t carry the show by showing without telling, but there’s something absolutely unnerving about not having a musical accompaniment to move the story along. We are forced to sit in silence while Anton Chigurh sits in a motel room, extracting a bullet from his leg and nursing his wounds without even a hint of ambient music to set the mood.
No Country for Old Men is one of Josh Brolin’s most successful films, earning $125 million at the box office and winning dozens of awards.
Josh Brolin’s performance is also iconic in this Coen brothers film. By now we’re familiar with his portrayal of Thanos in the MCU, but his delivery in No Country for Old Men shows his dramatic range in a way that’s stripped down, but powerful in its delivery.
No Country for Old Men is not for the faint of heart, and is certainly a far cry from The Big Lebowski. But you can’t look away from the screen as you nervously hum along to the cinematography in a feigned attempt to generate your own soundtrack as a means to break the tension. It’s no wonder this Josh Brolin starring movie garnered a 93 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes and won four Academy Awards.
If you’ve slept on No Country for Old Men up to this point, it’s about time you wake up, and immerse yourself in the brilliantly dark world that the Coen brothers have created for us.