An ordinary man stumbles across a ring of corpses surrounding a fortune in cash and a mountain of heroin. A bad man follows in search of the money; a good man follows in search of the man. This is the set-up for the newest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men -- an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, and a brilliant example of how plot devices as simple as murder and money can be used to explore larger sweeping themes of mortality, morality and more -- while still delivering rousing, intelligent pure entertainment.

Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is out hunting when he stumbles across a scene of murder -- broken glass, bullet-ridden cars and bodies. A pick-up truck is full of heroin; he tracks his way to a lone corpse under a tree and an attaché case full of cash. It's two million. It's there for the taking. So he does. Soon, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) comes looking for Moss and the money, leaving a trail of dead men in his wake; local sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to figure out the why and wherefore of the murder scene and tries to track Moss so he can stop Chigurh.

Many will mock or knock No Country for Old Men as Fargo, Texas style -- in truth, No Country for Old Men has much more in common with the lesser-seen Coen films Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing. The money only matters as something for people want; the murder as something that people do. The common perception of the Coens is that they're quirky comedians, but in many ways, they're also methodical moralists -- and No Country for Old Men gives them a canvas to explore in the broad burnished vistas of the West, and in the lives of those who live there.
categories Reviews, Cinematical