Burn After Reading

Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    Nothing about the project's execution inspires the feeling that this was ever intended as anything more than a lark, which would be fine if it were a good one. As it is, audience teeth-grinding sets in early and never lets up.
  2. Burn After Reading is untranscendent, a little tired, the first Coen brothers picture on autopilot. In the words of the CIA superior, it’s "no biggie."
  3. The movie is overplowed, even if Brad Pitt's debut as a Coen comedy player is eye-catching.
  4. Clooney remains as game as ever, but the way he and McDormand push the energy here, you feel the strain. Pitt, just floating through, comes off best. He doesn't judge the moron he's playing; he just is.
  5. It's a cheerful trifle tossed off by the Coen brothers in their self-enchanted mode, an approach to comedy that shrugs off comedy's cardinal rule -- Don't Act Funny.
  6. 50
    Oh, the high-octane cast works hard. But there's nothing to suggest anybody off camera tried that hard, which is fatal to a Coen outing.
  7. The clubby, predictably self-amused comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen, has a tricky plot, visual style, er, to burn, but so little heart as to warrant a Jarvik 8.
  8. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    50
    It's a clever setup for a spoof of the espionage thriller, but despite the film's intermittent pleasures (Pitt's gum-snapping dolt chief among them), the result is oddly airless.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    50
    Shallow and proud of it, an antic cartoon that lacks the comic inspiration to go the distance.
  10. 40
    Even Frances McDormand, the salt-of-the-earth actress who has warmed so many of the Coen brothers movies, falls into a queasy dead zone.
  11. Hopped up like a Bugs Bunny cartoon on mescaline and as chatty and uppity as a 5-year-old, Burn After Reading could be seen as the Coen brothers' need to let loose after the tightly wound "No Country for Old Men."
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 354 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 92 out of 164
  2. Negative: 42 out of 164
  1. Feb 4, 2013
    10
    It's deadpan comedy at its best, and who better to deliver it than Joel and Ethan Cohen, along with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, FrancesIt's deadpan comedy at its best, and who better to deliver it than Joel and Ethan Cohen, along with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand and the fantastic John Malkovich.
    When a disc containing some of the CIAs most revealing secrets goes missing, it ends up in the gym of the most bumbling, simple minded individuals, who attempt blackmail but get in too far over their heads.
    Its an approach at showing just how overreacting individuals can be, but also just how bland or too seriously many Hollywood movies take themselves surrounding this incident, basically a parody.
    Its a very well written dark comedy with brilliant performances, particularly Brad Pitt as an extremely camp gym worker, and retied CIA analyst John Malkovich.
    It has this large ensemble cast that go to extreme length to mock and amaze through sheer stupidity, all for our amusement, and they certainly do not fail.
    Full Review »
  2. Dec 31, 2013
    7
    Burn after reading blazes....
    The plot is crafted with immense precision surrounded by amusing characters and incredible acting performances,
    Burn after reading blazes....
    The plot is crafted with immense precision surrounded by amusing characters and incredible acting performances, a great film from the Cohen brothers.
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 28, 2013
    4
    you know how when a normal movie ends and you're like "ok, that was ok" while nodding your head.
    and when a great movie ends you're like HOLY
    you know how when a normal movie ends and you're like "ok, that was ok" while nodding your head.
    and when a great movie ends you're like HOLY waw, that was fantastic
    but when burn after reading ends, i'm like "WHAT, THAT'S IT 1:35 MINUTES, did i download the full movie or something went wrong?"
    so yeah 1 hour 35 minutes are too short to figure out these 5 characters, and yeah the performances were great,
    but one does not simply enjoy an unfinished movie with terrible ending.
    Full Review »