1. The Villain-Every western needs a terrifying villain. Someone that just exudes evil. Javier Bardem’s portrayal of a bounty hunter in No Country is really just terrifying. Not because his character looks scary (although his look is unsettling), but just by how his character does really evil things. He pursues the “protagonist” relentlessly, often times with horrific injuries, just to complete his mission. He suffers brutal injuries but keeps going, plus he becomes iconic not just through his quotes but also by his unique weapon. He murders without second thought, he’ll often sit in his scenes and you’ll really just not know what’s about to happen, and that in itself makes him the perfect bad guy.
2. The “Protagonist”-Josh Brolin (before taking parts in Jonah Hex) is an amazing actor. He pulls off a really really cool, sly talking “good guy” in the movie. In the beginning of the film he makes a bad decision, and that’s the main reason why he lands in the predicament he does running from the villain. The scenes he does have though are really propelled by his fierce nature.
3. Tommy Lee Jones and VoiceOvers-Tommy Lee Jones in the film almost acts as an audience member that’s in the film, commentating on the events that happen, but never having any effect on anything that goes on. As the Sheriff of the town, often coming in too late on the scene of the crime, sharing his thoughts, sharing a voiceover in the first 10 minutes and concluding the film with his chilling narration.
4. The Scenery-The beautiful thing about No Country is that there’s hardly any scenery. Miles and miles of barren desert populate most of the film’s shots, and they really help the movie’s “hopeless” theme. There are also some terrifying shots at pitch black night and during some sunsets that look amazing.
5. The Theme of the Film-The idea behind “No Country for Old Men”, just as a title, stands to reason that we live in a new world. A world where there isn’t black and white anymore, but there is some pure evil out there (villain), and that even our protagonist ends up in his situation thanks to a really immoral decision. By the end of the film (SPOILER) our protagonist dies a horrifically violent death and the bad guy gets away with it, only further cementing the message with TLJ’s chilling narration.
6. How Some Scenes Are Shot-The Coen Brothers are some of the best filmmakers around. There are some scenes in the film that really just blew my mind. There are chase shots between the villain and hero (especially the one at night) that are really tense and perfectly made, there’s one shot in a dark room with a loaded gun that’s also perfect, and there are so many other scenes with a great script, great humor, great tension present there (villain vs. the hero’s wife) (the coin scene)(the milk scene), and so many other great camera angles that make the film perfect.
7. The Tension-Oh the blasted tension! This sort of coincides with the first point, but there are some scenes when the tension becomes unbearable, and it’s great. (The Coin scene and the dark room scene are my favorites).
8. The Wordplay-There wouldn’t be as much tension in the film if it wasn’t for the good ol’ fashioned wordplay and the intensity of the script. Some of the dialogue is perfectly written, perfectly mundane but at the same time insightfully brilliant. “No sir, don’t put that in your pocket, that’s your lucky coin! If you put it in your pocket, then it’s just another coin…”
9. Shootout-There’s the shootout about 1/2 way through that has to be one of my favorites of all time, and no Western is complete without a great shootout.
10. The Ending-As I said earlier, the villain gets away with it, but it’s just how shocking that is, how they don’t beat you over the head making it obvious the hero died, but you still know, and how they simply and subtly show us the villain walking away before the police arrive. Concluding the movie and giving us a sad, but profound conclusion.