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Headscratchers / No Country for Old Men

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  • So we just established Llewelyn Moss as a man with a fairly poor set of morals...he happens across the aftermath of a bloody shootout, corpses everywhere and a truck bed loaded with drugs, and all he can think about is nabbing the money. The guy doesn't even have the courtesy to close the door of the truck when the dying man asks him to. Also, later in the film, he seems to be a fairly smart and resourceful man (the cat and mouse segments of the movie were intense). So, when he randomly decides to get up, in the middle of the night, to bring a jug of water to the dying man...well, where the hell did that come from? The man was probably already dead, the water wasn't going to safe his life (he'd probably have to take him to a hospital which would bring up a whole new set of issues for him)...fantastic movie but what a ridiculous, out of character lapse in judgement for him to even consider going back.
    • Out of character for a conscience to become overwhelming after several hours? I still, illogically, feel shame over stuff I did in primary school, much less a few hours ago.
    • I'd say the same, this trooper in his humble opinion figures from not just the 1st time he viewed the film but repeat viewing that Moss' morals aren't so poor but in a case of "what can I really do?" (as you pointed out, the man would be dead anyway and taking other options such as getting to the hospital would have brought up more issues, and in hindsight given the events of the movie, might have caused even more damage compared to what we did see). Later on we find out he fought in the Vietnam war, and although we have no real way of knowing just what he went thru, it's all but implied that human suffering and death may not bother him in some ways compared to others (again we have no real way to know so, for all that's shown, me could have been just as apathetic initially before he fought, few things could suggest otherwise). If nothing else, It's not impossible for a person to initially be either apathetic or telling themselves they can just ignore something or decide not to take any action, only to do so later regardless of anything period. It ends up causing the very case of 'No good deed goes unpunished'. It showed he had morals somewhere, and in this case it bit him back hard (him and anyone else who happened to cross his path, intentionally or otherwise). YMMV, but for me, it could be argued as being in character, but again, YMMV, IMHO.
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    • Calling the police from a payphone on your way out town would have been more realistic...although less entertaining.
    • Or, maybe Moss just isn't too smart. He's a Vietnam vet whose cunning plan to ambush Chigurh was...sitting upright on a bed in front of a hotel room door, with his gun in his lap. That doesn't just cross the line from Genre Savvy to Too Dumb to Live, it takes a running leap across it naked and on fire screaming yeehaw.
      • While it might not have been smart, it might have saved (or, rather, prolonged) his life. Just think about it - if he had stayed at home, they would have tracked him down through the transceiver probably the very next day and he wouldn't even know what hit him.
      • If I remember correctly, he was smart enough to deduce that there was a transponder in the case. He was also smart enough to bribe the hotel clerk downstairs to inform him if any "swingin' dick" came around. First thing he does after finding the transponder is call the hotel clerk (no answer). That implies that a specific swingin' dick is on the way (following the transponder). Too late to leave the hotel the conventional way, but I would have honestly left through the window immediately instead of sitting there. Smart, but lapsed just a bit.
      • To be fair, between the time he sat there, there was a good chance that he was expecting Chigurh to kick the door in and barge in quickly (similar to how he did at the previous motel that Moss was at, which he happened to be an earwitness to). So, knowing that Chigurh had gotten the guys in the room with their guard down, he chose to be on guard and ready instead of attempting to go for the window at that moment (because if Chirgurh barged in with guns blazing as Moss was crawling out the window, the probably of his death would have been high, if not for certain. So Moss sitting there waiting for the first move by Chirgurh, may have given him a few more seconds of life than he wouldn't have if he had just attempted to go for the window.
      • It's not a stretch to think he might be going back to put the fellow out of his misery, since he brings a gun. The water's just an excuse, a way to assuage his conscience. What I want to know is: why didn't Moss go through the money at home, find the transponder, and drop it back at the scene? It might have been a much shorter movie, but it would make a little more sense.
      • Llewellyn knew it was a dumb decision to bring a jug of water to a dying man, he lampshades this before leaving. He just let his conscience get the better of him. It still works with the theme of the movie (morality in an immoral world). One thing's for sure, Llewellyn's not an idiot, he may make a stupid decision every now and then but he still knows how to get out of a tough situation.

Why doesn't the air cannister run out?
Chigurh uses his cow-braining doohickey fairly regularly throughout the film, so why doesn't the compressed air run out?
  • Those tanks can hold a lot of gas under a lot of pressure, which is why they're so heavy and you see him almost dragging it around most of the time. Since he only uses it less than a dozen times, it would be nowhere near often enough to deplete it during the movie's timespan.
  • Unless I'm misremembering, I can only recall three times he used it onscreen (kills the car driver, breaks the camper's doorlock, breaks the hotel's doorlock and wounds Moss), and then there's the times he probably used it offscreen (Well's hotelroom, entering the building to kill The Man, entering the wife's new house).
  • In addition to how much air the tank can hold, compressed air canisters aren't a particularly exotic item even if they're being used to power one.
  • There's also the scene when Chigurh is broken down on the side of the road. The hayseed helping him out, by jump-starting Chigurh's truck, comments "That'll draw some power, over time." It could be that Chigurh was using a portable electric air compressor to recharge the tank while driving, and it had killed the truck's battery by pulling more current than the alternator and battery could put out.
Wouldn't people who hired Chigurh have sent...
More people after learning that M***' body was found in hotel w/o the money?
  • Short answer: yes.

Of course, since "the Mexicans" shot it out with Moss before Chigurh ever got there, it might be unclear to "the people who hired Chigurh" who actually had the cash.

BTW, in the book there is a later scene where AC delivers the $$ to the stunned corporate big boss and basically pitches himself for full-time employment instead of contract work.

Chigurh's Blue and Orange Morality is an Informed Ability
It just bugs me that folks in general - and the movie in particular - regard Chigurh as if he follows some sort of moral code "that only he understands." The movie feels like it's affording itself some sort of artistic high horse by telling us, no, Chigurh's not crazy, he just operates under a different set of moral rules than we do (and let's face it, a movie about an implacable man with an oblique philosophy is more interesting than one about an implacable man who just likes to kill people when the coin lands the wrong way). Except we're never given any evidence of this; if your morality is blue or orange, it can still be perfectly rational, though you might have to be an alien or a god or something to comprehend the rationality of it. We're given no justification for Chigurh's actions, either from his own perspective or somebody else's, so we have no reason not to consider him crazy. Plenty of genuinely nutso real-life murderers have thought their actions to be perfectly sensible, seeing logic where there isn't any: that's the definition of insanity.
  • Plus, making up grandiose, narcissistic justifications for your behaviors is an almost textbook sociopath behavior.
    • He is a sociopath, and I don't think that anyone would argue to the contrary. The fact that his behavior fits into the "textbook sociopath" realm adds realism to the movie in This Troper's opinion. However, we clearly see that he follows a moral code that is incomprehensible to normal observers. Having a complex set of rules that only you follow does not mean that you are not mentally ill. In fact, it's probably a warning sign.
  • I don't think anyone is saying Chigurh's not crazy, where have you read that? He's bugfuck insane, no doubt about it. What he's got though, is a very intricate list of justifications for his craziness - he thinks he's an agent of fate, and the people who come across him are simply destined to die. That's a load of crap (as, in the movie, Moss' wife so rightly points out) and if you meet a person like that in real life you either shoot them or run...but it is interesting to read/watch.

Did Sheriff Bell choose to act incompetently to allow Chigurh to escape?
Bell noted that the break-in of the Moss trailer has occurred very recently (condensation on the milk bottle), yet did not investigate by asking the neighbors if they saw anything. The desk clerk would have been able to supply a full description, allowing an APB as Wendell suggested. When Carla Jean gave Bell the location of the motel in El Paso, he did not call the authorities there, but drove to the meeting point himself. Bell knew Llewellyn was being actively hunted, and his decision left Llewellyn exposed for several hours at least. Having seen Chigurh's reflection in the tube at the motel, Bell entered the room without calling for backup. Once inside, he failed to turn on the room lights, leaving plenty of shadows large enough to hide a man. He then walked straight into a brightly lit bathroom, blocking his peripheral vision.

Bell may have simply been following his personal philosophy, expressed at the beginning of the film, "...I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say, "O.K., I'll be part of this world."

  • As to your second point, I'll point out that Bell DID give Carla Jean his word that he wouldn't get anybody else involved, in exchange for Llywelen's location.

Just something I notice, and I wonder if I'm alone in thinking this
Am I crazy, or does Llewellyn and Carla Jean's trailer have the same floor plan as Hi and Ed's? Could this be a rather stealthy shoutout?

Why would anyone consider hiring Chigurh?
And why has he become a hitman in the first place? I mean, at the start of the movie, he's not a newbie and clearly has some street cred since he's hired by an apparently influential drug tzar. Yet, first he kills the two guys at the shootout scene, then offs the man who hired him later on. This must be at least somewhat bad for business; not to mention killing people left and right while on a job seems unprofessional. I know Anton follows his own demented "morality", but he still has some sense of self-preservation, as demonstrated when he flees from Llewelyn shooting at him, or when he refuses to fight Bell. He must be aware that his unfettered brutality is going to bite him in the ass sooner or later since no-one would want to work with him.
  • His terrifying nature might be one of the reasons he's in demand, even if you know he is unreliable. I think Chigurh is the kind of guy that would scare pretty much anyone, even hardened criminals. He's also very good at what he does - even to the point where he gets himself arrested purely to escape custody FOR FUN.
  • It's probably also the first and only time he's gone rogue. Up until now he might have a reputation for brutality, but maybe he always followed his job to the letter. We also don't know exactly why he wants the money - I would contest that he's not trying to steal the money for himself, because he doesn't seem to care about the actual financial value of the satchel at all. Can you imagine Anton Chigurh going shopping for frills and fancies? I can't even imagine him retiring to live a "fun" life. Perhaps he's already rich, or perhaps he's just such a psycho that he gets all his fun from his job and money is mostly irrelevant to him. I wouldn't be surprised if he was just doing a job for an even bigger, unseen criminal group who want the Texas syndicate wiped out. He infiltrated the Texas guys and then "betrayed" them to serve his real employer.

How did Chigurh escape the motel room without Bell noticing?
The only way out was the way Bell came in. Chigurh was in the room. The bathroom window was locked. There's no way he could have gotten out without Bell noticing. So how did he?
  • Chigurh is not in the room. When the door is open we can see that there's no one behind it and that there are no feet darkening the stream of light underneath it. There is also not enough room for a man holding a shotgun and briefcase to hide behind the door anyway. This is why Bell opens it all the way, letting it thump against the wall. Chigurh left the room before Bell arrived. What we see is Bell imagining Chigurh being in the room, because Bell is afraid of having to face someone like him.

How could Anton explode the car in front of the pharmacy and then steal it without no one doing anything?
I mean, wasn't there any way to contact a police officer at all? What if someone'd take a photo of him (I know there were no phones, but it's still a possibility, someone might have a camera and be confident enough to think he might not be seen by Anton while taking the photo). Also, he was hurt and seemingly unarmed, someone might have tried to stop him on his own (He can't know what'd anyone that was there do). I know people was distracted but someone might have seen him meddling with the car! I kinda realize it was some sort of desperate action but that scene still feels rather stupid.And he didn't even bother leaving the town! He just went back home! People could've put two and two together all the time and he just didn't care as if he'd came with a mastermind plan.
  • Well, do you carry cameras to the pharmacy? Do you think people did back then? This was 1980 in rural Texas in the daytime, the best you'd hope for is a Polaroid but even that's unlikely. And in the book it is fairly clear that the exploding car was an act of misdirection and Anton sure is competent so he avoids being seen as, well, a car blew up! Plus he does check the coast is clear first. Who are you expecting to piece it all together? The sheriff himself calls the guy a ghost! And that's before I refer to reality, such as the fact most eyewitness descriptions are unreliable. The description of AC given later by the kid at the end is very, very bland. So what did you expect to happen? "Sheriff! This guy meddled with the car that blew up. No, I couldn't see what he was doing... No I didn't see a weapon... He looked average... White dude... He went into the store". Yeah, OK, that's up there with circulating a lookout for a milk drinker....

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