No Country For Old Men

West Texas local boy Llewelyn Moss (Josh Bolin) stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad while out hunting and discovers a suitcase filled with $2 million in cash. By claiming the money as his own, he becomes the target of Anton Chigur (Javier Bardem), a sociopathic killer with no sense of humor who will kill anyone who gets in the way of reclaiming the money. As Moss flees for his life, local Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) does all he can to interrupt the killing spree that Chigur leaves in his wake.

It's not hard to see why this film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year. The Coen brothers' masterful adaptation of the book by Cormac McCarthy comes to life on the screen. Javier Bardem's Oscar-winning performance as the ruthless killer Anton Chigur is reason enough to watch the film, but the performances by both Brolin and Jones aren't exactly chopped liver, either. The film has some violent moments, but it all happens within the confines of the story and isn't there merely to shock the audience. In fact, some of the most brutal moments are never seen but rather left to the imagination of the viewer, much like a classic Hitchcock film.

The 2.35:1 Blu-ray presentation is fantastic. The fine detail is exquisite and it never wavers, whether in a close up or a long shot. There are many dark scenes in the movie, and the black level is rock solid with excellent depth and shadow detail to die for. Colors are a bit muted and laid back, which really exemplifies the 1980 time period of the film and the dry Texas countryside. Compression is never an issue thanks to the high-bitrate AVC encode. If I have one nit to pick, it would be some very minor banding that showed up in some skylines, but this was rare and didn't detract from the beautiful picture quality.

As is customary with Buena Vista titles, an uncompressed PCM 5.1 mix is included on the disc, and boy is it impressive! Dialog is crisp and clear from the moment you are greeted by Jones' southern drawl, and it only gets better from there. Not once did I strain to hear any of the phenomenal dialog in the Coens' Oscar-winning adaptation. The movie's many gunshots had a creepy, lifelike quality, and the ambience from the surround speakers had me sitting on the edge of my seat on many occasions awaiting the arrival of impending death. While just short of reference quality, the Oscar-nominated sound mix never disappoints.

The bonus features are good, but sadly, they are only presented in standard definition. Included are three featurettes, including "Working with the Coens," an 8-minute piece on how the actors and other members of the crew feel about working with the two brothers. Next is a 25-minute "making of" featurette, and finally, a 7-minute featurette titled "Diary of a Country Sheriff," which contrasts the differences between Tommy Lee Jones' sheriff and the ruthless killer portrayed by Javier Bardem.

This is not a film for the faint at heart, so be warned going in. But if you are a fan of cinema, it's a must-watch. The Coen brothers have entertained with such works as Raising Arizona and Fargo, but No Country for Old Men may very well be their best film to date. Highly Recommended.

Film: 9.5 out of 10
Picture: 9.5 out of 10
Sound: 9.5 out of 10

Review System

Sony PlayStation 3

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Denon 4308CI A/V receiver (used as a pre-pro)
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre-pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre-pro to projector