Every so often, Hollywood comes out with a film adaptation that actually does justice to the book it is based on. "No Country for Old Men," the Coen Brothers' latest work (and an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel by the same name) not only does the book justice, but in many respects conveys the white-knuckle tension and senseless violence of the story better than the acclaimed novel.

Set in barren but beautiful West Texas, the film unfolds as Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a retired welder living in a trailer with his wife, stumbles upon a drug deal gone awry while out hunting in the countryside. Among the dead corpses and bricks of heroin is a briefcase with $2 million, and after giving the matter some thought, Moss decides to take the money and run.

Little does he know what's in store for him. Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a deranged, psychopathic killer (sporting a goofy haircut) quickly realizes the missing stash of money, and he will stop at nothing to get Moss and the briefcase.

Armed with a shotgun and deeply terrifying cattle gun, Chigurh is one mean S.O.B., provoking, intimidating, and (usually) killing anyone foolish enough to cross his path.

The ensuing cat and mouse chase between Chigurh and Moss, the centerpiece of the film, is fast-paced, exciting, and unpredictable. Moss wanders around West Texas desperately trying to lose his foe, but Chigurh, armed with a tracking device and his indelible cattle gun, is always close behind.

Moss is also aided throughout the pursuit by an unlikely ally, small-town sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones).

Jones, with his large belly, slender shoulders, and perpetually worried expression, seems to have all the mannerisms of a small-town sheriff; he eats at the local diner, reads the local paper, and believes the world is going to hell in a handbasket. (In these respects, Bell also mirrors another character from a Coen Brothers film: Marge Gunderson?played by Frances McDormand?in the 1996 Oscar-winning film "Fargo.") Bell opts out of working with the DEA to try and catch Chigurh, instead deciding that he will try to save Moss on his own.

The acting in "No Country for Old Men" is nothing short of superb. Jones and Brolin play their roles with lifelike precision, and Bardem masters the terrifying persona of Chigurh.

The film also boasts an excellent supporting cast, including particularly good performances by Kelly Macdonald and Woody Harrelson. Macdonald is convincing as the sweet, down-home wife of Moss who sits in agony as her husband tries to outrun Chigurh, while Harrelson, cast as cocky businessman Carson Wells, tries to strike a deal with Moss in exchange for getting Chigurh off his back.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the film and the book is the role of Sheriff Bell. Instead of the moral pillar Bell plays throughout the book, the film portrays him merely as a support for the action between Moss and Chigurh.

However, this did not detract from the movie; in fact, by thinning out Bell's monologues, the Coen Brothers are ultimately able to produce a more absorbing (though admittedly less contemplative) product.

Though some scenes within the movie feel clumsy (especially the exchange between Bell and his uncle), most scenes in the film are able to flow almost effortlessly from one to the next.

Nearly all of the Coen Brothers' films are intensely violent, and "No Country for Old Men" is no exception. The violence is frequent, and when it isn't shown on screen, it is often left up to the viewer's imagination.

Nonetheless, it is a remarkable piece of filmmaking, providing movie-goers with an action-thriller that will terrify and excite. If the Coen Brothers don't earn seats at the Oscars in February for "No Country for Old Men," the pair has at least secured some respectability for films adapted from books.