There are chase movies - The Fugitive, First Blood and Apocalypto - and then there are chase movies directed by the Coen brothers. After a number of lean years directing mega-stars like Tom Hanks and George Clooney, the Coen brothers, in a particularly stylish take on the genre, are back on award-winning form. The plot is fiendishly simple: they unleash the petty criminal Javier Bardem on the trail of Josh Brolin, after the latter finds a small fortune in the middle of the desert. Noting he has stumbled into a bungled drug deal which has left nearly everyone dead, Brolin takes the cash and makes a bid for freedom. What follows is over two hours of cat-and-mouse tactics as Bardem, in a wonderfully sadistic performance, unleashes all manners of vengeance on Brolin and his family. Tommy Lee Jones, who recently excelled in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and In the Valley of Elah, gives another assured performance. But it is Bardem and Brolin who inhabit the core of the Coens' dark exploration of modern day America. In the hands of any other directors, audiences would have been assured of a neat ending. But the film's conclusion is both as violent and as enthralling as anything the Coens have done before.
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