I've never watched the 1969 version because I don't like John Wayne. Anyway, they say this is not a remake of that film but a reinterpretation of the original book. It stars two of my favourite actors: Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and Matt Damon as Ranger LaBoeuf. The third key actor is 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld - I don't know if she's highly talented or if the Coens managed her performance very well, but she was excellent too.
The plot is that the girl's dad gets shot and the killer runs off to join a gang of outlaws in 'The Indian Territory' (now Oklahoma). She hires Cogburn to track him down and bring him in to the state lines, so he can be hung. LaBoeuf is also on his trail and all three kind of travel together and co-operate in pursuit of the bad guy. As the name of the film implies the key theme is the various ways that toughness is expressed - in particular emotional or psychological resilience. All three main characters are extraordinarily resilient, despite their various vanities and other flaws.
In Dune the Meaning of Life, god's purpose for people, is to 'to show what you are made of' by testing to destruction. There is always a mystical undercurrent to the Coen brothers' films, and while it is hidden in this film, I think there is a spiritual message within the film, about being-in-the-world. William Blake said 'The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom' and I think the road of excessive toughness and stubborn resilience is as legitimate a road to wisdom as any other.
I also like the portrayal of the affection between an old man, a young man, and an even younger girl. The relationship is not determined or dominated by any one of the three, and none of them are very easy to get along with. Matt Damon is brave, I think, to show a very complex - probably inappropriately sexual - interest in the girl, which turns into something healthier and more creditable to him as the film develops.