It’s been six years and two movies since the Coen brothers directed a feature that didn’t embarrass the memory of everything else they’ve ever made, but, with No Country for Old Men
, the writing-directing duo are back to old form. In many ways the movie, which stars Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin, serves as a companion piece to their modern classic, Fargo
. Both feature obscure country as main characters, both focus on searches by noble sheriffs for morally ambiguous crooks, and both are minimalistically conceived and written – the only real difference being that Fargo
is based on an original idea by the brothers and No Country
is an adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Jones plays the sheriff, though his role is surprisingly small compared to Bardem’s soulless killer, an avatar of fate named Chigurh, and the real star, Brolin, who plays a working stiff who, after finding $2 million in Mexican drug money, flees with Chigurh on his tail. There’s Coen-grade dark humor, plenty of gory violence and a trio of performances that could easily earn Oscar nominations. The only thing it’s missing is a solid ending; the one it has stumbles on its own artistry.