Finally got around to seeing this flick last night, and...don't think it lived up to the hype. It was good, but it wasn't THAT good.
What I liked:
The characters. Anton Chigurh (Bardem) - chilling. HE deserved his Oscar. Llewellyn (Brolin) - an interesting protagonist, not the typical "ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation" character you see in most thrillers. He had stones; I liked that. Ed Tom (Jones) - such an authentic performance, I've known men like this in real life.
The violence. Very realistic, brutal -- it didn't seem like movie violence. It didn't seem forced. The violent was well integrated with the film's themes.
The writing: that gas station scene should be used as a prime example of great screenwriting. Notice how the scene starts off mild but builds up as it goes, and we know what the characters are saying not because they say exactly what's on their mind, but because they don't say exactly what's on their minds. It's more fun for the sadistic Chigurh to imply his intentions via subtext because he's just that sadistic and wants the guy to squirm. And the guy's afraid of coming out and saying "I'm afraid you're going to kill me" because for all he knows that's what Chigurh's waiting for him to say. Man, what an incredible scene, so well written, so well acted. That scene's going to be studied for years.
BUT...AND BEWARE, FOR HERE THERE BE SPOILERS....
I didn't like that Brolin's death happened so suddenly and out of our view. I didn't expect him to live, and honestly I'd have been pissed if he HAD managed to make it through all that shit and kill Chigurh, because it had already been shown that Chigurh was not a man. His look, his gaze, his voice, his horrible will...he's a force of nature, a juggernaut, a hurricane in human form. And if Brolin had succeeded in killing him, it would have basically negated the entire film. Brolin had to die. I just didn't think it would be so...lackluster. It was almost anti-climactic. The rat-a-tat-tat of machine gun fire, then next thing you know there he is dead on the floor. Totally robbed his death of the dramatic impact it should have had.
As for the ending...it's missing something. Jones's final soliloquy was interesting enough, sure, and I got the point: that he'll be forever haunted by what's happened, that he'll never outrun the past or, more precisely, this case, or the diabolical role Chigurh played in it. But it's missing something. I don't mind an ambiguous ending, but even an ambiguous ending must carry with it a higher dramatic note; as is, the ending feels like a dinner guest who abruptly rises from the table and leaves, and you're left wondering, "What the hell was that all about?"
I did think it was a good film, yes, and worthy of most of its praise. But certainly not all of it.