No Country for Old Men Ending Explained: What Was Tommy Lee Jones Talking About?

No Country for Old Men Ending Explained

Based on Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel of the same name, Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2007 neo-Western crime thriller No Country for Old Men was written and directed by the duo.

The film, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin, is set in 1980s West Texas and takes place in the region’s desert.

The film revisits the themes of fate, conscience, and circumstance that the Coen brothers had explored in the films Blood Simple 1984, Raising Arizona 1987, and Fargo 1996.

The film follows three main characters: Llewelyn Moss Brolin, a Vietnam War veteran and welder who stumbles upon a large sum of money in the desert; Anton Chigurh Bardem, a hitman who is tasked with recovering the money; and Ed Tom Bell Jones, a local sheriff investigating the crime.

Kelly Macdonald plays Carla Jean, Moss’s wife, and Woody Harrelson plays a bounty hunter after Moss and the $2 million.

Plot Summary

No Country for Old Men Ending ExplainedIn 1980, hitman Anton Chigurh is arrested in Texas. In custody, he strangles a deputy sheriff and uses a captive bolt pistol to kill a man on the highway and escape in his car.

By correctly predicting the outcome of Chigurh’s coin toss, the owner of a nearby gas station is spared. Hunting pronghorns in the desert, Llewelyn Moss comes across the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong.

He discovers a number of bodies, including both humans and canines, a wounded Mexican man who begs for water, a cache of illegal substances, and two million dollars in a briefcase.

He pockets the cash and heads back to his abode. Later, Moss returns with water but finds the man dead. He runs from two men in a truck and into the river.

When he gets home, he leaves his wife Carla Jean with her mom and heads to a motel in Del Rio, where he conceals the briefcase in the air duct of his room.

Chigurh, who has been hired to recover the money, shows up at Moss’s house and blows the lock off the door with a bolt pistol. While looking into the break-in, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell of Terrell County noticed the blown-out lock.

Chigurh goes to Moss’ motel room after finding a tracking device in the cash, shoots three Mexicans who were hiding out there, and then kills Moss. Moss has rented out a second room next to the Mexicans’ room, giving him direct access to the air duct containing the hidden cash.

Before Chigurh can open the duct, he goes and gets the briefcase. Moss moves to a hotel in Eagle Pass, Texas’s border town, and there he finds the tracking device, but Chigurh has already located him.

A bystander is shot and killed when their gunfight spills out into the street. After Moss crosses into Mexico, he hides the cash along the Rio Grande. A passing norteo band discovers Moss and rushes him to the hospital.

A bounty hunter named Carson Wells tries and fails to convince Moss to accept protection in exchange for money. Chigurh uses stolen medical supplies to bandage his own wounds before sneaking up on Wells in the hotel.

Wells is killed by Chigurh despite his attempts to negotiate for his life. Chigurh threatens Carla Jean’s life over the phone when Moss calls the room demanding the money back.

No Country for Old Men Ending Explained

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Moss retrieves the case from the river and sets up a meeting with Carla Jean at a motel in El Paso, where he intends to give her the money and keep her safe. When Sheriff Bell sees Carla Jean, he approaches her and assures her that Moss will be safe.

Carla Jean‘s mom accidentally gives Moss’s whereabouts away to the gang of Mexicans that has been following them. When Bell finally arrives at the El Paso motel where they were supposed to meet, he hears gunfire and sees a pickup speeding away from the building.

Bell and Carla Jean arrive at the parking lot to find Moss already dead. Bell returns to the scene of the crime later that night and sees that the lock has been blown. After stealing the cash, Chigurh ducks behind a nearby door.

Once inside Moss’s room, Bell notices that the vent has been removed. Afterward, Bell goes to see his ex-lawman uncle Ellis and tells him he wants to retire because he is “overmatched” by the recent violence.

Ellis retorts that this is how the area has always been. After several weeks have passed since Carla Jean’s mother’s funeral, Chigurh finally makes good on his threat to Moss and waits for her in her bedroom.

She declines his offer to flip a coin for her life, saying that he has no right to place blame on the chance because the decision is ultimately his. An automobile collides with him as he drives through the neighborhood, breaking his arm.

He offers money to two young witnesses in exchange for their silence, and they agree to keep quiet in exchange for his safe departure. Bell and his wife, now retired, have two dreams in common.

Money given to him by his father was lost in the first. Bell and his dad were traversing a snowy mountain pass in the other, with dad setting up camp and waiting for him with fire.

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Ending Explained

No Country for Old Men Ending Explained

The film initially leads the audience to expect a happy ending in which the “Good Guy” triumphs over the “Bad Guy” and makes off with the loot. We soon learn that no one was on the up-and-up and that they were all after the drug money.

A third party takes care of Llewelyn’s demise, so there is no hero-villain showdown. Ed was the “good” sheriff, but he was outmatched and arrived too late to save anyone.

At the end of No Country for Old Men, Ed remembers a dream he had about his father, suggesting that his father is the old man for whom there is no longer a country. He used to be able to analyze criminal behavior, but he’s since given up and admitted defeat.

Ed recalls having two dreams in which his father appeared to him. One in which he misplaced some cash his father had given him. And another one where he’s riding alongside his father in the cold.

With a splinter in a horn, his dad heads out into the night to tend to a smoldering fire. Ed has a dream in which he travels to a place where his father is waiting for him.

It was clear that Ed had a lot of respect for his father, especially during the times when they had both served as sheriffs.

He has retired and anticipates dying like his father; upon his death, he hopes to be reunited with him. But for the time being, he must continue trying to make sense of the world as it is transforming.


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