Sensing its grim message, I vowed not to see “No Country for Old Men.” But then, in a hotel in Chicago while on a training trip for my company in March, my curiosity got the best of me. I ordered the movie in my hotel room. I had to see what Hollywood had come to after many years of my refusing to see theatre grotesque.
I was prepared to be flabbergasted, but the kind of evil that paraded before my eyes stunned me into reflective silence one moment and fury the next. My blood ran cold at the “hero” assassin in the movie and what his type ominously meant about Hollywood and possibly much of America. The assassin was a calculating psychopath acting as Grim Reaper for allegedly imperfect people who, because of their personal failings, somehow deserved not only his fatal justice but, in many instances, a gallows comeuppance speech beforehand.
The filmmakers (the wretched Coen brothers) gave the assassin all the gravitas of a Greek hero. He had the confidence of James Bond, the canniness of a spy, the unhurried movements of a general who has had months to plan an operation. He effortlessly outwitted his good-guy opponents and disappeared into the night like a devilish apparition who cannot be caught because he is beyond good and evil. He is the devil’s executioner of regular guys with a guilty conscience, though his victims do not deserve such a fate.
The Coens have their good guys show existential dread and inner turmoil, as if reflecting the American psyche, while the assassin seems blithe, carefree and discerning.
As dreadful as the recent “There Will Be Blood” was, "No Country for Old Men" shows Hollywood’s liberal underbelly like no other in the history of filmmaking, to my knowledge. It is a pile of wretched, stinking, worm-ridden, Jackson Pollack manure on painted canvass. It is the antithesis of what art should be: the rapturous splendor of what humans can and should be under difficult circumstances. It is unadulterated evil in Technicolor. It is what Hollywood now adorns with its golden statues.It is no country for Hollywood.