NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN Just Pisses Massawyrm Off!!
Published at: Oct. 22, 2007, 8:32 a.m. CST by headgeek
Harry here - He's retarded...
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Look. I know. People are going to get defensive about this one right out of the gate. The Coen's have their legions of vocal fans and the critical set loves them. The buzz on this one has been high and God almighty does that trailer look awesome. But that doesn't stop this film from sucking the very marrow of life right out of the audience that sits down to watch it. This thing isn't just a disappointment – it is a fucking tragedy.
You see, the first 2/3rds of this film are completely awesome. Not good. Not great. Awesome. Incredible. The best thing the Coen's have done. Ever. Imagine crossing Blood Simple with the perfect local color, characterization and humor of Fargo. It is everything the Coen's do well, executed perfectly. But the Coen's have another streak in them. They like to be experimental. They like to break the rules of storytelling to achieve new and different effects. Sometimes it works. Sometime's it doesn't. This time they went way too far. This time they made a wonderfully paced, taut thriller…and thought it would be great to skip the climax.
No, I don't mean the film simply lacks a climax. It builds to one. Watch that fantastic trailer again. Feel the promise of that film? Do you see where it is headed? It's headed to a showdown. And man does it build up to it well. This is the story of what happens when a normal guy runs afoul of some very bad people over a big bag of money. And every single beat hits its mark. And then the moment arrives when the climax is about to go down…and we as an audience come in just moments afterwards. And for a few minutes everything seems fine. Until, that is, you realize that the Coen's have zero intention on telling you what happened. And what happened is MAJOR. Huge. It is everything the story was building up to. And what happens changes everything. What they don't show you is so vitally important that you begin to wonder if the projectionist somehow missed a reel.
It is an experience akin to watching a really incredible sporting event, a real nail biter that comes down to the wire…only to have your television go out for two minutes. When it finally comes back on you hear the announcer shout "OH MY GOD! Who would believe that? That is an incredible moment of sports history right there and I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it with my own eyes!" And that announcer is more than happy to tell you who won, but never explains exactly how it happened. That's the ending of No Country for Old Men. And it is entirely intentional.
This is The Soprano's all over again. The Soprano's was a great series with a run up to what could have been one hell of an ending…that just plain ended and left the audience hanging. If that ending got under your skin, just wait until this one hits ya. The crowd I saw this with, all critics, were into this the whole way. We were laughing, cheering – the energy in that room was high. And you could actually feel the whole room deflate once that moment hit. And despite the few great scenes that follow the missing climax, no one seemed impressed. The energy was gone.
Sure, I'm certain a number of Coen devotees are gonna defend this claiming that it is the lack of a climax and the sudden change in the story that makes it that much more powerful. That it was an effective storytelling technique and just more proof of the Coen's genius. And all I can say is that if this didn't have the name Coen on it, these same people wouldn't stand for this bullshit. They went too far this time. The rules they decided to break are too big. They commit a sin so large, so irredeemable, that it kills the whole film. It isn't just a great film with a lame ending. It becomes a film that depresses you. Then it makes you angry. Not because the material moves you – but rather because they fucked up something really great.
Javier Bardem is a man-god in this. The trailer only gives you the slightest glimpse of how good this guy is in this movie. He's creepy, brooding and creates a uniquely terrifying character. It's one of those roles that were it in a better movie, would become Hollywood legend. It would become one of those characters that pops up in a montage reel every year come Oscar time. It's what happens when you cross Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter with Michael Madsen's Mr. Blonde without cribbing from either. The guy is one bad hombre. And if there is any reason to see this it is for Bardem alone.
But really, it isn't Bardem alone. Everyone in this gives their best turns in years, if not ever. Tommy Lee Jones reminds us exactly why we love him by playing the small town Texas Sheriff he was born to play. Woody Harrelson takes every scant second he's given in this and makes the most out of it turning in exactly the kind of character work he's best at. They white trash-up Kelly Macdonald and she only gets sexier and more likable. But Josh Brolin, dear god. Here's a guy that I never gave the time of day to, a guy I honestly never thought was worth a shit. The only times I've liked him was when he was allowed to be stiff in Grindhouse and that insane underwater slap and tickle fight with Paul walker in Into the Blue. But never because he was good. Here he's the best he's ever been. And that ain't faint praise. If someone's willing to give him material like this again, I'd slap down my ten bucks to see him. This is some killer character work.
But it is all wasted. Every bit of it. Because no matter how great everyone is, no matter tight the dialog, hell, no matter how good the story is as it chugs along, it never makes up for the monumental suck that is the third act. Anyone who was hoping for the triumphant return of the Coen's are gonna be let down something fierce. It's like having great sex but never being allowed to cum. If you can imagine that disappointment, then you can grasp exactly what you're in for with this one. Only recommended to those who are ready to defend its genius before even having seen it.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.