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Blu-Ray : Recommended
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Release Date: March 11th, 2008 Movie Release Year: 2007

No Country for Old Men

Overview -

Set in West Texas, a man on the run with a suitcase full of money is pursued by a number of individuals.

Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (640kbps)
French Subtitles
Special Features:
Release Date:
March 11th, 2008

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


It’s been trumped as “The Return of the Coen Brothers,” it was declared Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, and it features some of the most powerful, naturalistic performances captured on film in 2007. Anyway you cut it, ‘No Country for Old Men’ is an astounding achievement in storytelling and filmmaking, one that warrants every bit of praise critics and fans can heave its way. Personally, I’m smitten.

’No Country for Old Men’ tells the slow-drawled tale of Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) and sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), two strangers in 1980 West Texas struggling to make sense of their meager lives. A Vietnam veteran and welder by trade, Moss works day in and day out to provide a decent living for his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald). Bell, on the other hand, is about to retire from a successful career in law enforcement, but he's plagued by the fading relevance of his generation. When Moss stumbles across a botched heroin deal in the desert and steals a satchel packed with millions in cartel cash, he becomes the unwitting target of a vicious hitman named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Unbeknownst to Llewelyn, a small tracking device is embedded in the stolen case, forcing him to stay one step ahead of the seemingly omnipresent assassin. As bodies pile up in Chigurh’s wake, sheriff Bell must try to get a handle on the sudden violence erupting in his town.

Director’s Joel and Ethan Coen (‘Blood Simple,’ ‘Fargo’) seem right at home with the laconic conversations and simple musings of their characters. Rather than engaging in a series of chase scenes and hyperactive encounters, in 'No Country for Old Men,' the brothers coordinate a carefully paced game of cat and mouse that leaves film fans little in the way of a safety net. The heroes aren’t guaranteed survival, the villain is an unstoppable agent of death, and the supporting characters are mere fodder for Chigurh’s merciless streak. The Coens have tossed aside every Hollywood cliché, crafting a world of palpable danger and disarming tension. I can’t remember the last time a movie literally held me on the edge of my seat, but ‘No Country for Old Men’ drew me toward the screen more than any film this year.

Of course, the directors’ efforts would be in vain if not for the cast's extraordinary performances. Brolin tops off a career-defining year with a role that’s both quiet and explosive; his portrayal of Llewelyn as a sad-sack worker invigorated by chance is tragic and haunting. Jones continues to prove himself as the go-to actor of his generation, turning in another thoughtful performance that evokes the wisdom chiseled into the leathery folds of his face. Finally, Bardem’s cold hearted killer is a revelation -- a terrifying sociopath who puts Hannibal Lector and other cinematic monsters to shame. The scene in which Chigurh strolls into a convenience store and flips a coin is hands down one of the creepiest moments committed to film.

I’d be remiss to close out my review without mentioning cinematographer Roger Deakins. ‘No Country for Old Men’ proves that words aren’t always the most effective means for telling a great story. From forlorn deserts to vacant city streets, from poorly lit motel rooms to a sea of tall grass near a border station, Deakins manages to imbue every shot with surreal, dusty beauty; in the process conveying an unforgiving vision of Texas and the film's characters.

‘No Country for Old Men’ is a post-modern masterpiece. While it takes place in the early ‘80s and features a horde of stoic, tight-lipped cowboys, it speaks to both the timeless nature of the human condition and the perils of modern society. Its old men are perplexed by the emerging violence of the times, its young men are overly eager to die in pursuit of an easy dollar, and its killers are as determined and ruthless as nature itself. The film’s slow pace and languid story may not be for everyone, but ‘No Country for Old Men’ is a tense, challenging morality tale that has a lot to say about the prevailing cynicism of our world.

Video Review


Don’t be deterred by its subdued palette -- ‘No Country for Old Men’ features one of the finest, filmic Blu-ray transfers I’ve encountered. Naturalistic colors and skintones are the lifeblood of this 1080p/AVC encode, injecting a level of authenticity into the production that truly elevates the film. The bright, desert exteriors didn’t reveal any blooming, and the bleak nighttime shots of the city weren’t hindered by crushing. In fact, shadow delineation is incredibly precise considering the fact that the transfer’s blacks are inky and its contrast is comfortably stark. Detail is a bit stealthy, but that has more to do with the basic costuming and set design than any technical deficiency. It’s a cinch to spot sharp facial details, clothing textures, and blowing dust. Jump to the scene in which sheriff Bell examines the site of the botched heroin deal -- notice the crisp brush in the distance, the rustled hair on the dead dog, and the tiny pebbles lying in the dirt at his feet. Simply stunning.

There are no hints of edge enhancement, artifacting, or compression issues to be found. Compared to the standard DVD, the Blu-ray edition is a completely different animal -- it’s cleaner, more vibrant, and far more stable. If I have any nitpick, it's that grain spikes a bit during some of the darker evening shots, but this can be attributed to the original print, rather than to the Blu-ray transfer. All in all, ‘No Country for Old Men’ looks exceptional, matching the Coens’ intensity and Deakins' skilled cinematography at every turn.

Audio Review


While not as intricate or impressive as the video transfer, the uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround track (48 kHz/ 24-Bit/ 4.6 Mbps) included on ‘No Country for Old Men’ still deserves an enthusiastic nod. Music and explosions may be at the bottom of the directors’ to-do list, but the sound designers manage to fill the soundfield with a series of deftly authentic acoustics, powerful LFE support, and crystal clear dialogue. To my surprise, the rear surrounds even get a thorough workout, single-handedly creating an immersive dimensionality to interior and exterior environments. Best of all, gunshots are jarring, squealing tires are nauseating, and the sss-thunks of Chigurh’s cattlegun are chilling to say the least.

From a technical standpoint, pans are transparent and directionality is spot on. I never had trouble discerning an object or character’s position in the soundfield, nor did I struggle to find my bearings during any of the more chaotic scenes. Conversations were perfectly prioritized, the soundfield opened up on a regular basis, and only a few lines of dialogue appeared to have been looped in post-production. If I have any issue with the PCM track, it's that the majority of the mix is weighted in the front channels -- the city never seems to expand off into the distance as nearby sounds are usually the only elements in the soundscape. Regardless, the PCM track on ‘No Country for Old Men’ does an excellent job replicating the theatrical experience. Fans should be exceedingly pleased.

Special Features


The Blu-ray edition of ‘No Country for Old Men’ includes all of the 480i/p special features that appear on the standard DVD. However, to my disappointment, the slim supplemental package doesn’t include a much needed directors’ commentary from the Coens. It would have been fascinating to listen to the brothers dissect the differences between the original novel and the Oscar winning film, but I suppose I’ll have to hold out hope for a feature-packed anniversary edition in the future.

  • The Making of No Country for Old Men (SD, 25 minutes) -- While it trails off near the end, this straight forward featurette is packed with information about the production, the script, the cast, and the final editing of the film. Better still, it features interview clips with the Coen brothers as they discuss design decisions, pre-production woes, and the amount of leg-work it took to get the project off the ground. The entire cast chimes in as well, noting the efforts and the commitment exhibited by everyone involved.
  • Working with the Coens (SD, 8 minutes) -- This rather self descriptive featurette doesn’t have many surprises, but it does manage to explore the on-set attitudes and shooting styles of the Coen Brothers. Interviews, candid behind-the-scenes footage, and a few questions with the directors keep this one consistently interesting.
  • Diary of a Country Sheriff (SD, 7 minutes) -- This all-too-brief featurette compares and contrasts the characters of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell and Anton Chigurh. Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem appear in interviews to discuss the manner in which they crafted their characters.
  • Trailers (SD, 4 minutes) -- While the theatrical trailer for ‘No Country for Old Men is not included,’ Disney/Buena Vista added Blu-ray trailers for ‘National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets’ and ‘Gone Baby Gone.’

Final Thoughts

’No Country for Old Men’ is worth its weight in Oscar gold. The Coens have made an exceptional film that has grafted itself to my cinematic consciousness. The Blu-ray edition is magnificent as well -- it may not have a compelling supplemental package, but it does have a striking video transfer and an excellent PCM audio track. As my third favorite film of 2007, this quintessential return-to-form for the Coen Brothers earns my hearty recommendation.