Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is a killer from hell who likes to play mind games with his victims before he makes them play dead. How could a good ol’ Texas boy like Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) hope to elude this monster, when Moss has $2 million that Chigurh plans to get back without saying please? With its tale of loser-cheaters and a sneaky detective (Woody Harrelson), the movie could be Blood Simple: The Next Generation. As it tells of an ordinary guy who takes something valuable and is pursued by a remorseless bounty hunter, it suggests the plot of Raising Arizona. There’s also Tommy Lee Jones playing a cop as righteous as Marge in Fargo.
Except that this close adaptation of the 2005 Cormac McCarthy novel isn’t a greatest-hits pastiche. By Coen standards it’s a tense, straightforward melodrama. By any standards it’s a super-violent thriller, as scary as the black hole where a madman’s heart should be. Sure to be the brothers’ most honored movie since Fargo, it’s a great showcase for Joel and Ethan’s storytelling finesse and filmmaking power. Just in their 50s now, the Coen brothers should be entertaining and challenging us for decades to come.