Cougar critique: “No Country for Old Men”


Anton Chigurh, one of the characters in “No Country for Old Men,” looks completely devoid of human emotion, and incapable of feeling any remorse for his victims. Graphic by: Christian Montecino

Christian Montecino

How the Coen brothers crafted one of the most iconic villains to date

Ethan and Joel Coen are no strangers to making movies with incredible antagonists. Tom Chaney from “True Grit,” Marge from “Fargo” and even Jeffrey “The Big” Lebowski from “The Big Lebowski.” However, none of these antagonists even come close to the level of evil, wits and determination that Anton Chigurh has from the 2007 movie “No Country for Old Men.”

“No Country for Old Men” is a crime drama thriller set in 1980s Texas, revolving around one briefcase full of cash. Out hunting, Llewellyn Moss comes across the aftermath of a drug deal and takes the briefcase full of cash and runs. This catches the attention of Anton Chigurh, our antagonist, who is the closest thing we will get to a true psychopath in movies today. Chigurh eventually hunts down Moss and threatens to kill his wife if he doesn’t hand over the briefcase, but we never know what happens next because the movie ends with Chigurh walking out of the house of Moss’ wife and getting into a car crash. 

The reason Chigurh is the most real psychopathic villain is not because he kills. We already have an abundance of that in movies and television today. It’s the way he does it. In the movie, Chigurh goes all around Texas looking for Moss, and in this expedition, he comes across his main weapon for the rest of the movie, a cattle gun. This cattle gun is so important to Chigurh’s character for multiple reasons. It gives us an outlook on how he views humans: as cattle. The intuition to also use it to break into rooms and bust locks is only rivaled by the likes of MacGyver. 

A captive bolt gun, more known as a cattle gun, is a retractable metal rod hooked up to a carbon dioxide tank that, when used, swiftly launches and retracts a metal rod. This weapon is Chigurh’s weapon of choice, using it in different ways, like shooting the lock off of doors and killing other people. Illustration by: Emily Nguyen

The reason he kills is probably the most important thing about his character. When Chigurh is set on doing something, he will do it not for himself but in the name of fate. He walks around with a coin in his pocket, waiting for a moment to flip it. He believes that he is a harbinger of fate with a complete lack of remorse and his own twisted set of morals that bewilder even the deputy, who has seen almost everything there is to see in his line of work.

The thing that really ties Chigurh together is the acting. Without the incredible acting from Javier Bardem, this article would never be written. Bardem is a master at making characters pop, fully embracing the character that is Anton and playing into it perfectly. The way he has that cryptic and always empty look makes the viewer unsettled and scared for what might come next.