Director: The Coen Brothers
Starring: Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem & Tommy Lee Jones
Had this come out in the UK just a few weeks earlier it would have been a serious contender for my favourite film of 2007. As it stands now, in 2008, it will set a standard by which other films will be measured against this year. The Coen Bros are back on form and seemingly more mature than before and finding new depths to themes they've explored in earlier films like Fargo and Blood Simple.
Josh Brolin is impressive as the average joe who comes across a group of dead drug dealers in the desert and a satchel of money who then finds himself out of his depth when a brutal killer comes after him. Brolin is on a career comeback (big in 80s, disappearing in the 90s) after appearing in Planet Terror and American Gangster and looks to be an actor to keep an eye on in the future. Tommy Lee Jones is good as usual as the Sheriff (and narrator) who is always too far behind Brolin, the killer and the body count left after them.
It is, however, Javier Bardem that will be who most people remember the film for. His killer, Chigurh, is a cold, remorseless, methodical and unrelenting psychopath. He kills strangers just for saying a wrong word to him and is therefore even less forgiving to those that cause him greater inconvenience. It is a truly chilling performance.
The dialogue is fantastic and very faithful to the novel, as is the bleak ending which is quieter and more downbeat than the build up would suggest yet it feels more natural and poetic than some major shootout. This may upset viewers more used to conventional thrillers but Coen fans should be pleased.
For me this is a damn near perfect thriller. Moody, tense, with great dialogue to chew on and an ending that gives you much to think about.