In the film, "No Country for Old Men" in what way does it reflect a 'new criminal' that law enforcement agencies may be ill equipped to deal with"?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the film adaptation of No Country for Old Men, Anton Chigurh is a force of evil and revenge that no one can deal with: not law enforcement, not Wells, not Moss, not his drug-lord bosses.

He is very much like The Misfit in Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" in that he is a divine evil.  He is a noble nihilist who kills those who are materialistic and self-serving.  He is regulated by a simple concept of fate (an old coin), and he is willing to kill civilians (Moss' wife).

In this way, he is very much like a modern terrorist whose demands transcend those of conventional law enforcement.  They rely on a set of revenge principles which call for punishment of all (civilians alike).  Here's his archetypal profile:

The TERRORIST: the dark knight, he serves a warped code of honor.  Self-righteous, he believes in his own virtue, and judges all around him by a strict set of laws.   The end will always justify his nefarious means, and no conventional morality will give him pause.  Don’t try to appeal to his sense of justice – his does not resemble yours.

Wells says it best:

No no. No. You don't understand You can't make a deal with him. Even if you gave him the money he'd still kill you. He's a peculiar man. You could even say that he has principles. Principles that transcend money or drugs or anything like that. He's not like you. He's not even like me.

The only survivor, ironically, is Bell--the old law man.  Chigurh has a chance to kill him in the hotel at the end.  Still, Bell and his buddy do not know what motivates this new kind of criminal: they are always a step behind him.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that some clarification might be needed.  I agree that Chigurh's character is a "new criminal" in that he is a cold mercenary.  If we accept the premise that law enforcement is successful in catching criminals because of their mistakes, then the assertion is correct because Chigurh does not make many mistakes.  He is emotionless, for the most part, as he does not have any vested interest in the crimes.  Essentially, he is on a mission, a quest.  If he is encountered as a potential obstacle, he will not be denied:  "Your time has come."  Given the cold nature he possesses towards his actions and the fact that he is smart, any law enforcement that is successful because of another's failure is going to have problems with Chigurh.  Yet, this might be where the problem lies in the question.  Is it fair to make this call?  Aren't there interest where law enforcement makes the correct collars not because of mistakes made, but because it is strong and coherent?  If this is so, then I am not sure we can make the assumption that Chigurh's presence makes law enforcement "ill equipped."  The law enforcement shown in the film might certainly be "ill equipped," but that might not necessarily apply to all of law enforcement.  I am of the mindset that a law enforcement agency with more resources and a greater sense of savvy than that of Ed Tom Bell might be able to have posed a greater sense of presence against the likes of Chigurh.

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No Country for Old Men

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