No Country for Old Men

I was a senior in high school in the fall of 1980. There were no cell phones or MP3 players. In fact, some of us were still either tying up the party-line or spinning vinyl on a tabletop. While revisiting the flick “No Country for Old Men”, which takes place in 1980, it occurred to me how disconnected we were back then. If you weren’t comfortably ensconced in your 10-20 but, instead, caught up in some kind of trouble, a CB or a pay phone – if there was one nearby – became the source of communication. And unless you were scoring it big in Vegas, that satchel of riches you found during a drug deal gone bad was most likely being tracked by some ne’er-do-well’s transponder.

Llewelyn Moss, welder and somber pseudo-adventurer, finds himself in such a situation that leads him on a path absent of direct lines to the virtual world. As it turns out, quick access to others is what is needed to stay ahead of a deadly finish at the hands of either a ruthless cartel agent or those of a Mexican gang. Without it, Moss is forced to step slowly through time while looking over his shoulder. One motel after another replaces today’s version of online speed buying, i.e., finding the best route to get the hell outta Dodge, and fast. His movements are just as quiet as those of the relaxed Web surfer, only his results are far more unknown and drawn out, like the long fuse to a pile of dynamite. We know something’s got to give because, all the while, he just can’t get out of the way of flying projectiles, which are the only things moving fast in his world.

Local sheriff Ed Tom Bell provides the most acute summary of the times while attempting to locate Moss before it’s too late: “Time will flatten a man”. And although this statement was in reference to his “linear” analysis of a string of crimes, it’s apt to note that those who don’t conform to change do eventually become fodder for the steamroller known as time. And in Ed Tom’s case it’s a combination of his age and a degrading of the moral landscape that flattens and frightens him enough to up and quit.

Anton Chigurh, hired hitman and purveyor of chance, provides a glimpse into the future. He appears to be a man ahead of his time, possessing both cunning and calculated resourcefulness. He manages to make use of the hard-copy clues provided in order to track down Moss, e.g., the serial number plate from a pickup door or a telephone bill. But perhaps he would have been out of his element in today’s world of technological surveillance, and bored to tears by the lack of no longer needing to walk in stocking feet across the pavement in an attempt to surprise his victim. But I’m guessing that’s just him. I think there are plenty of others available to make use of today’s technology so as to do the quick, sanitary work that makes up the underworld. Think identity theft.

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