The screenplay is laced with a morbid, dark sense of humor, which goes well with the underlying plot structure. There are semblances to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but in terms of symbolism and metaphor No Country is richer. Especially striking are metaphors of evil in the actions of the wrong-doers, who are earnestly pursued by the dutiful Sheriff, who comes across as a lone-ranger amid the litany of evil mongers running after quick money. Coen brothers need also be credited for their able handling of the novel form and its smooth adaptation onto screen. Given their poor track record of novel adaptations, this is an impressive and faithful work.
Although gun violence is integral to the plot and the genre, there is too much of it during climax sequences. And as expected it is Anton Chigurh who is at the centre of much of the carnage. His shooting spree at times borders on the insane and the directors might have gone overboard in this respect. Tommy Lee Jones is the stand out actor among the cast, for though he could not prevent the killings or accomplish his mission, his commitment and moral authority is clearly visible. As the story marches towards its conclusion, there is evidence of despondency in Jones’ eyes, which is recognition of his failure to avert much of the transpired violence.
In conclusion, the words of noted critic Ian Buckwalter serve as a suitable summary assessment of the merit of the movie:
“But don’t let the humor fool you. No Country for Old Men is the Coens’ darkest and bleakest film to date, full of as many nervous ruminations on fate and violence and growing old as it is full of breathtaking thrills. The ending recalls the calm, abrupt conclusion to Barton Fink, but without the final bit of surrealist humor. This quiet end after a movie that barrels along like a series of runaway trains is a splash of icy water to the face. The filmmakers leave the audience cold, hopeless, and hollow, yet wanting to go back and experience it all over again.” (Buckwalter, 2007)
Biancolli, Amy, Movie Review: No Country for Old Men, Houston Chronicle, November, 15, 2007, retrieved from <http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ent/movies/reviews/5254937.html> on 6th July, 2011.
Buckwalter, Ian, Review of No Country for Old Men, Arts and events, November 9, 2007, retrieved from <http://dcist.com/2007/11/out_of_frame_no_1.php> on 6th July, 2011.