Movie Mind Says: Rent It
If You Like This You Should Watch: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, The Hunted
Better Than: Collateral
Worse Than: Fargo, American Psycho
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin
The Movie Mind is officially throwing up his hands…waiving the white flag…throwing in the towel…and any other act of submission you can think of. You win. They win. I have had it with the Academy, critics, and everyone in between who continue to shovel literary snubs in our faces any chance they get while looking down their noses which hold up their nonprescription spectacles.
I didn’t read the Cormac McCarthy novel this film was “adapted” from and you shouldn’t care. There are 10,000 other reviews of this movie that will tell you about how well the geniuses that are the Coen brothers brought to life the fabulous novel. The Movie Mind isn’t one of them. If you want to be in that club then be my guest, and in that case, this site isn’t the right place for you. Jump in line to claim you are as smart as the rest. I hate to admit it, but I understood all the hidden themes and what the characters represent and how it all plays out and ends. But none of that has any bearing on what makes this an entertaining movie.
Here is why you read The Movie Mind reviews. Keep in mind I say this at risk of losing any shred of credibility that may be remaining for this website. I’m not buying the hype. Best Picture? Not on your life. Was the movie good? Yup, it was…good. Probably better than good, definitely above average. But I cannot tell you how flat out pissed off I got when this movie ended. What you won’t find me doing is bowing down and licking the boots of the “film-gods,” known as the Coen brothers. It’s as if the movie critics out there are afraid to chastise this film at the risk of upsetting the Academy or feeling shunned by their peers.
The film starts with an immediate revelation about how it’s going to play out the next two hours, and for the most part the film sticks to it. Javier Bardem pops up early as the unbelievably creepy, scary, and believable ruthless murderer, Anton Chigurh, who has morals…just not the kind most of us (or at least I) believe in. We are not sure how he ties into everyone else, but we know whoever he crosses is in trouble. Chigurh is nothing more than the epitome of all that is evil. Whether it is deciding the fate of human life by the flip of a coin, or keeping his “word” of who he promised to kill, there is seemingly no way to change or stop anything he has set out to do. I don’t think I can ever look at Bardem again and not be terrified. For that reason alone, he was the most deserving of all the Oscar winners in my opinion.
On the other side of spectrum is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) who honestly wants to make a difference and change the world. As the film progresseshe becomes increasingly cynical after each act of evil committed by Chigurh and it seems improbable that anyone but the bad guys will win. As the Sheriff of a local-yocal Texas town near Mexico, he longs for the days of the lawmen in the wild-west who actually stood a chance against the bad guys.
Stuck in the middle of these two is Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) as a down on his luck welder looking for a ticket out of the living hell that is his life. One day on a hunting trip he just may have found it. A suitcase of cash left over from a drug deal gone bad becomes his property after he decides to leave the dead bodies and carnage behind and not heed any of the obvious warnings of just how dangerous that cash may be. In a game of eat or be eaten, Moss struggles to cope with the reality of the situation. He is an old school cowboy in a world that put them to bed a long time ago. As far as his performance goes, if Bardem didn’t take home the statue I would have had no problem with Brolin walking away with it. He was just that good.
So how do the performances of Bardem, Brolin, and even Jones go to waste with The Movie Mind ripping into this movie? Simple…the writing for which the Coen brothers won an Oscar is self-indulgent and more geared toward a fable. The acting is what carries this movie from minute-one and makes it a good (yet still not Best Picture Oscar winning) film. Take that away and all you have is another Hollywood clique telling us how dumb of an audience we are for not worshiping them. Maybe they should stop hanging out with David Chase (Sopranos creator) and grow a pair. I don’t care if good or evil wins, or if they both lose, just don’t tell me that it’s up to us to decide. It’s as if the Coens taylor-made this movie to win an award and please the critics. The actors, thankfully, had their audience in mind. I might be singing a different tune if there was a better ending, or any ending at all, but I am tired of this highbrow nonsense. We aren’t reading Homer or Tolstoy here, we are watching a movie. Someone let the Coens know.
Interesting Cameo Appearance: Stephen Root (aka Milton from the timeless classic Office Space) as the drug-buying businessman who does business with the shadiest characters of all.
Llewelyn Moss: If I don’t come back, tell mother I love her.
Carla Jean Moss: Your mother’s dead, Llewelyn.
Llewelyn Moss: Well then I’ll tell her myself.
Ed Tom Bell: It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners. Anytime you quit hearing “sir” and “ma’am”, the end is pretty much in sight.
Ellis: Whatcha got ain’t nothin new. This country’s hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.
Wendell: That’s very linear Sheriff.
Ed Tom Bell: Well, age will flatten a man.
Wendell: It’s a mess, ain’t it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell: If it ain’t, it’ll do till the mess gets here.
Llewelyn Moss: If I was cuttin’ deals, why wouldn’t I go deal with this guy Chigurh?
Carson Wells: No no. No. You don’t understand. You can’t make a deal with him. Even if you gave him the money he’d still kill you. He’s a peculiar man. You could even say that he has principles. Principles that transcend money or drugs or anything like that. He’s not like you. He’s not even like me.
Wendell: You think this boy Moss has got any notion of the sorts of sons of bitches that’re huntin’ him?
Ed Tom Bell: I don’t know, he ought to. He’s seen the same things I’ve seen, and it’s certainly made an impression on me.
Gas Station Proprietor: I seen you was from Dallas.
Anton Chigurh: What business is it of yours where I’m from, friendo?
Carla Jean Moss: And what are you going to do?
Llewelyn Moss: I’m fixin’ to do something dumber than hell, but I’m going anyways.
Anton Chigurh: Just call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Well, we need to know what we’re calling it for here.
Anton Chigurh: You need to call it. I can’t call it for you. It wouldn’t be fair.
Gas Station Proprietor: I didn’t put nothin’ up.
Anton Chigurh: Yes, you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life you just didn’t know it. You know what date is on this coin?
Gas Station Proprietor: No.
Anton Chigurh: 1958. It’s been traveling twenty-two years to get here. And now it’s here. And it’s either heads or tails. And you have to say. Call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Look, I need to know what I stand to win.
Anton Chigurh: Everything.
Gas Station Proprietor: How’s that?
Anton Chigurh: You stand to win everything. Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: You don’t have to do this.
Anton Chigurh: People always say the same thing.
Carla Jean Moss: What do they say?
Anton Chigurh: They say, “You don’t have to do this.”
Carla Jean Moss: You don’t.
Anton Chigurh: Okay.
Carla Jean Moss: What’s in the satchel?
Llewelyn Moss: It’s full of money.
Carla Jean Moss: Yeah, that’ll be the day.
Carla Jean Moss: I got a bad feeling, Llewelyn.
Llewelyn Moss: Well I got a good feeling, so that should even out.
Anton Chigurh: And you know what’s going to happen now. You should admit your situation. There would be more dignity in it.
Carson Wells: You go to hell.
Anton Chigurh: Let me ask you something. If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?
Carson Wells: Do you have any idea how goddamn crazy you are?
Anton Chigurh: You mean the nature of this conversation?
Carson Wells: I mean the nature of you.