West Texas in June 1980 is desolate, wide open country, and Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) laments the increasing violence in a region where he, like his father and grandfather before him, has risen to the office of sheriff. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), hunting pronghorn, comes across the aftermath of a drug deal gone awry: several dead men and dogs, a wounded Mexican begging for water, and two million dollars in a satchel that he takes to his trailer home.
Later that night, he returns with water for the dying man but is chased away by two men in a truck and abandons his vehicle. When he gets back home he grabs the cash, sends his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) to her mother’s, and makes his way to a motel in the next county where he hides the satchel in the air vent of his room.
Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is a hitman who has been hired to recover the money. He has already strangled a sheriff’s deputy to escape custody and stolen a car by using a captive bolt pistol to kill the driver. Now he carries a receiver that traces the money via a tracking device concealed inside the satchel.
Bursting into Moss’ motel room hideout at night, Chigurh surprises a group of Mexicans set to ambush Moss, and murders all of them. Moss, who has since rented the connecting room on the other side, is one step ahead. By the time Chigurh removes the vent cover with a dime, Moss is already back on the road with the cash. In a border town hotel, Moss finally finds the electronic bug, but not before Chigurh is upon him.
A firefight between them spills onto the streets, leaving both men wounded. Moss flees across the border, collapsing from his injuries before he is taken to a Mexican hospital. There, Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), another hired operative, offers protection in return for the money.
The story is fairly simple: on the raw plains of Texas a slaughter of men and dogs engaged in a drug deal is discovered by a simple guy Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin). Moss observes the mayhem, sees the drugs, finds the 2 million dollar payoff money, takes the money, and embarks on an escape, leaving his wife Carla (Kelly Macdonald) to escape the pursuit of a mad killer Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who in turn is being pursued by the local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) and a hired hitman (Woody Harrelson).
The satchel of money contains a tracking device and Chigurh has the instrument necessary to follow the trail the device leads. The remainder of the film is the pursuit both in Texas and in Mexico, accompanied by countless brutal murders of all sorts by the crazed Chigurh, until a surprise ending.
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Year of Release: 2008
Character to watch: Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?