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6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 331 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 59 out of 331
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  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, 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
    It'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.
    Expand
  2. AndrewP.
    Oct 5, 2008
    9
    Expertly Crafted story, with shocking twists. The humor is great, and the Cohen brothers have done it again!
  3. JayH.
    Dec 12, 2008
    7
    Very entertaining crime comedy with stand out performances from Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand. Funny, very well written and never a boring moment. Excellent.
  4. Apr 21, 2012
    9
    i thought the film was very intelligent. the jokes are very smart, in a way hard to explain. the characters feel really natural. it is a movie that shows skill on the filmmakers' behalf. if it feels naturally good, it's a good film.
  5. Sep 11, 2012
    9
    Again a masterpiece by the Coen brothers. More bizarre than ever before and starring fantastic actors (every single one of them plays great!) and has a brilliant screenplay. A comedy film like it was meant to be. Everything's really good here, except some over-acting by McDormand and Pitt here and there.
  6. Jul 30, 2012
    8
    Not quite at the level of films like Big Lebowski in terms on Coen Brothers comedies, but still a really fun movie with some really good actors acting like true idiots and having a blast in the process. Brad Pitt is a high point, but the show stealer for me was JK Simmons as the perpetually befuddled CIA superior attempting to follow all the ridiculousness.
  7. Dec 31, 2013
    7
    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.
  8. Dec 24, 2013
    8
    The Dynamics Of The Average Human Motivation Are Revealed and the construction of suburbia is the space of such motors. The social carpet unfolds black and popish resembling a report for those that watch from the sky
  9. SM
    Dec 31, 2008
    9
    Unfortunately most people haven't got the point. Coen brothers and all these amazing actors got together to show us how ridiculously, not only our country, but the whole world is approaching a catastrophe. The more stupid one is, the higher the rank s/he can get in the government/intelligence. Then Idiots make policies and decisions and everyone gets screwed up. Just think about the Unfortunately most people haven't got the point. Coen brothers and all these amazing actors got together to show us how ridiculously, not only our country, but the whole world is approaching a catastrophe. The more stupid one is, the higher the rank s/he can get in the government/intelligence. Then Idiots make policies and decisions and everyone gets screwed up. Just think about the point of this movie again. Coens, Malkovich, Clooney, Pitt, Swinton, .... are all smart people and their time is very expensive, so they spend it on something that is worth watching and thinking about. Expand
  10. PaulT
    Dec 21, 2008
    9
    I dont understand why people didnt like this. In terms of entertainment value, I thought it was way better than No Country for old men. What can I say, I Loved it.
  11. EoghanM.
    Oct 26, 2008
    10
    One of the best films this year and tat s saying something!
  12. ChadS.
    Sep 13, 2008
    7
    Sonny Wortzik(Al Pacino) planned a bank heist in Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" so he could pay for his boyfriend's sex reassignment surgery. People do insane things for love. Echoes of the 1975 film can be gleamed in "Burn After Reading" when Linda Litzke(Frances McDormand) tries to unload a disc of CIA "s***" at the Russian embassy. The high cost of surgery is the root of Sonny Wortzik(Al Pacino) planned a bank heist in Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" so he could pay for his boyfriend's sex reassignment surgery. People do insane things for love. Echoes of the 1975 film can be gleamed in "Burn After Reading" when Linda Litzke(Frances McDormand) tries to unload a disc of CIA "s***" at the Russian embassy. The high cost of surgery is the root of Linda's ersatz attempt at espionage. In stark contrast to Sonny, though, the fitness center employee is having work done on herself. Welcome to "The Me Century". "Burn After Reading" savagely attacks a certain segment of the general public and their corresponding character; those Americans who are narcissistic, lazy(Linda opts for liposuction instead of working out), therefore fat, and ill-informed. More than ever, the 21st century is a throwback to the seventies(dubbed "The Me Generation"), a period in which people were apolitical and hedonistic(Linda has one-night stands with men she found surfing the Internet.). She and Chad(Brad Pitt) solicit the Russians without an understanding about our current political climate. For the record, The Cold War ended in 1991. When Osbourne Cox(John Malkovich), late in the film, says, "You belong to a legion of morons," he's not really addressing Ted(Richard Jenkins); he's addressing the American people; the voting populace, at large. Ted doesn't belong to the "idiotocracy". Ted is a good man. What about you? Expand
  13. MikeD.
    Sep 13, 2008
    7
    The movie has a good premise, but it didn't seem to follow through on what it intended to do. The beginning is quite slow as it unfolds the characters and takes awhile to get to the meat of the plot. By then, you've already asked yourself "where is this going?" At times, it was witty and sardonic. Brad Pitt nailed the role as small-time gym trainer. He definitely highlights the The movie has a good premise, but it didn't seem to follow through on what it intended to do. The beginning is quite slow as it unfolds the characters and takes awhile to get to the meat of the plot. By then, you've already asked yourself "where is this going?" At times, it was witty and sardonic. Brad Pitt nailed the role as small-time gym trainer. He definitely highlights the movie. However, the rest of characters didn't blend well with the "dark comedy-esque." I found them to be too serious and not whimsical enough. The tone of the movie at times didn't know when to be humorous or serious. In general, it's not too bad, but not too good. The great ending was the savior of the movie. Expand
  14. JayK
    Sep 15, 2008
    9
    Every joke hit it's mark (rare thing for a comedy), and there were lots of jokes. This is my favorite Coen movie after No Country For Old Men. Clever, well acted, achieves everything it wants. One of the few movies where so many despicable characters are so watchable. I can understand that some people are left wanting a higher purpose, but they are either missing the point or just Every joke hit it's mark (rare thing for a comedy), and there were lots of jokes. This is my favorite Coen movie after No Country For Old Men. Clever, well acted, achieves everything it wants. One of the few movies where so many despicable characters are so watchable. I can understand that some people are left wanting a higher purpose, but they are either missing the point or just need a different point. I can understand that some folks won't get it or like it, but I'm gratefully not in that camp. Great, funny movie. Expand
  15. jimi
    Jan 5, 2009
    9
    Confirms what we've known all along: just about everyone in Washington is a lot dumber than they think they are...if only the real ones would get the poetic justice these clowns do!
  16. AlanG
    Aug 4, 2009
    9
    Absolutely hysterical. Saw it on the movie channel. I'd never even heard of the movie before. My wife and I were howling throughout the movie. The cast was superb. Frances McDormand plays screwball better than anyone. Malkovich, Clooney, Pitt and the rest of the cast hit their marks ever time.Satire, black humour, screwball comedy. The writing was crisp and very very funny. Though my Absolutely hysterical. Saw it on the movie channel. I'd never even heard of the movie before. My wife and I were howling throughout the movie. The cast was superb. Frances McDormand plays screwball better than anyone. Malkovich, Clooney, Pitt and the rest of the cast hit their marks ever time.Satire, black humour, screwball comedy. The writing was crisp and very very funny. Though my wife disagrees, I liked it better than Fargo. Expand
  17. BillyP.
    Oct 1, 2008
    7
    Entertaining... but being a Coens borthers movie you expect to be blown away. This time they fall short.
  18. JPS.
    Oct 6, 2008
    7
    Curious plot drew me deeper and deeper into the humor of the movie. Characters seemed shallow at first, but in the end viewers have no doubt that it is written and directed by the Cohen Bothers.
  19. JonB.
    Sep 12, 2008
    8
    The movie is comprised of plot twists and dark humor. I would recommend this movie to anyone who liked Fargo and The Big Lebowski. I thought it was a good movie on the first watching, but it may get even better with subsequent viewings.
  20. JudyT.
    Sep 13, 2008
    9
    Funniest movie I've seen in a long, long, time. I am not a Coen Brothers fan but I was pleasantly surprised by the cleverness of this movie. A must see.
  21. JosephA.
    Sep 13, 2008
    8
    Hysterical. Can be a bit hard to follow at times but the characters are strong and the comedy is quick. Loved it.
  22. TylerG.
    Sep 14, 2008
    9
    Not as good as No Countr, but still one of the best films of 08'. Perfect mix of drama and comedy. Only complaint is the beginning is a little weak but ultimately it adds up to the middle and end which is grade A material. Not worthy of Best Picture but still a must see.
  23. BillyS.
    Sep 14, 2008
    7
    What Burn After Reading may lack in story and structure, it makes up for in (as all Coen movies do) great quirky characters, and lots of them. It may not be the Oscar juggernaut that we'd expect from the brilliant Coen brothers, but what a joy it is to watch their menagerie of off the wall people who inhabit this movie! Brad Pitt's Chad Feldheimer is a classic that could grab What Burn After Reading may lack in story and structure, it makes up for in (as all Coen movies do) great quirky characters, and lots of them. It may not be the Oscar juggernaut that we'd expect from the brilliant Coen brothers, but what a joy it is to watch their menagerie of off the wall people who inhabit this movie! Brad Pitt's Chad Feldheimer is a classic that could grab the Acedemy's attention and JK Simmons is deadpan hilarious! Expand
  24. PeterK.
    Sep 28, 2008
    9
    Darkly funny. One of the best things that the Cohens have done since Raising Arizona.
  25. ChristianW.
    Sep 30, 2008
    8
    even funnier than Big Lebowski, i guffawed my way through it. Pitt is hilarious, so is Malkovich. McDormand and Clooney are also pretty good. Those who prefer the Coen's funnier stuff over their thrillers will absolutely lap this one up. Watch for the visible boom, apparently that's intentional.
  26. EmmaS.
    Jan 10, 2009
    9
    Haha are you kidding me that movie was hilarious!
  27. MattA
    Jan 18, 2009
    7
    Deliciously dark, and entertaining. Great performances by all of the leads and supporting characters. Burn After Reading, is not your typical movie. As complex as the story may seem, it really... really isn't. The only thing that makes it complicated is the fact that a bunch of egomaniac idiots can't seem to grasp the big picture. The only one who seems to be level headed is the Deliciously dark, and entertaining. Great performances by all of the leads and supporting characters. Burn After Reading, is not your typical movie. As complex as the story may seem, it really... really isn't. The only thing that makes it complicated is the fact that a bunch of egomaniac idiots can't seem to grasp the big picture. The only one who seems to be level headed is the chief of the CIA. The movie is funny, not on the rolling on the floor kind of way, but in the "oh my god, what the hell were they thinking. They're idiots" sort of way. I can easily see how this is not right for everyone. But to me, i enjoyed myself. Expand
  28. SteveP
    Jan 2, 2009
    8
    I heard one reviewer say that this film is a
  29. christianp.
    Jan 2, 2009
    10
    I'm completely baffled at some of the comments here. One person who gave this movie a score of THREE out of TEN (!?!?!?!) wrote, "I love Coen Brothers movies. This one is a dud...Weird people acting stupid and killing each other...Very, very disappointed." I'm sorry, but if you truly love the films of the Coen brothers, you'd come to expect (and look forward to) "Weird I'm completely baffled at some of the comments here. One person who gave this movie a score of THREE out of TEN (!?!?!?!) wrote, "I love Coen Brothers movies. This one is a dud...Weird people acting stupid and killing each other...Very, very disappointed." I'm sorry, but if you truly love the films of the Coen brothers, you'd come to expect (and look forward to) "Weird people acting stupid and killing each other." Am I wrong?! This film was funny, clever, well written, dark, startling, quirky, odd, and everything else we expect from these filmmakers. Why isn't this rated much much higher?!?!!? Expand
  30. MajorM.
    Jan 3, 2009
    7
    It is a overall good film with 3 roles that really make the film. Brad Pitt,George Clooney,John Malkovich are the 3 roles that make this movie good. you really forget how good Pitt is until you watch his movies. it was good and worth the time to watch.
  31. Mr.L.
    Jan 9, 2009
    9
    This movie is hilarious. If you enjoyed The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona and Fargo, you will love this movie. As a sidebar... although I didn't keep count, I'm pretty sure John Malkovich's character says "fuck" more times than any character in Hollywood history.
  32. TroelsS.
    Feb 8, 2009
    9
    I do not understand how soe people can get completely lost in this story. It's quite simple actually, but in a complicated way. It's an intriguing movie about how the smallest things can affect some of the largest things. It's crazy, it's hectic, it's insane and it's genius! Once again the Coen brothers manage to make a movie, where you have to sit for a I do not understand how soe people can get completely lost in this story. It's quite simple actually, but in a complicated way. It's an intriguing movie about how the smallest things can affect some of the largest things. It's crazy, it's hectic, it's insane and it's genius! Once again the Coen brothers manage to make a movie, where you have to sit for a while and just stare. Brilliant! Expand
  33. FranciscoP.
    Mar 4, 2009
    7
    The Coen's usually characterize their films using dramatic breakups to their stories. In this film that breakup is more than ever unexpected: simple characters transforming into witnesses of their own mistakes... the story becomes more dense nevertheless always more atractive. In this zoo of characters, some reality between too much freakness may be necessary... That's an issue The Coen's usually characterize their films using dramatic breakups to their stories. In this film that breakup is more than ever unexpected: simple characters transforming into witnesses of their own mistakes... the story becomes more dense nevertheless always more atractive. In this zoo of characters, some reality between too much freakness may be necessary... That's an issue that the Coen's definetely got to improve in ther stories... obviously instead of No country for old man. Expand
  34. ChristianV
    May 8, 2009
    10
    Love it! Gets funnier with each viewing!
  35. JonasN.
    Nov 13, 2008
    8
    I laughed throughout the last 30 minutes of this film. The plot, or lack of same, was hilarious.
  36. [Anonymous]
    Oct 12, 2008
    9
    One of the funniest films I've ever seen, and one of the best of the year.
  37. CodyF.
    Oct 14, 2008
    9
    The Coen brothers have lived up to their reputation again. A phenomenally dry humor that kept me laughing from start to finish. The Malcovich/Clooney/Pitt combination worked amazingly and you could tell there was lots of chemistry on the set. But the best part of the movie was the score. The music kept you "on edge" in a comedy and the order of events was spectacular.
  38. GinaO.
    Oct 18, 2008
    8
    Creative, idiotic and funny, I recommend it. I loved the characters and the plot. It
  39. JimL.
    Dec 23, 2008
    9
    Very enjoyable, if you like the Coen brothers' zany view of reality, and their dark sense of humor.
  40. MikeB.
    Oct 24, 2008
    8
    The Coens often defy traditional story structure, such as in The Big Lebowski, where the main character undergoes no change. In this movie, nothing happens, and the traditional story arch (conflict, rising action, climax, resolution) is essentially thrown out. Personally, that makes me think that this film is brilliant, but I can understand why others who are looking for a more The Coens often defy traditional story structure, such as in The Big Lebowski, where the main character undergoes no change. In this movie, nothing happens, and the traditional story arch (conflict, rising action, climax, resolution) is essentially thrown out. Personally, that makes me think that this film is brilliant, but I can understand why others who are looking for a more traditional format (given the star appeal of the movie, quite a lot of folks) are disappointed. Expand
  41. AnonymousMC
    Oct 26, 2008
    8
    I feel this movie clicked for some and clanged for others, in a half-and-half arrangement. I was one of the ones whom it did click for. I liked it alot, because it was very off-beat, disastrous, and I found myself laughing to myself the whole way through, just because I thought the complete lack of synchronicity between the characters, and their inability to actually see the big picture,I feel this movie clicked for some and clanged for others, in a half-and-half arrangement. I was one of the ones whom it did click for. I liked it alot, because it was very off-beat, disastrous, and I found myself laughing to myself the whole way through, just because I thought the complete lack of synchronicity between the characters, and their inability to actually see the big picture, was very humourous. Subtlety isn't exactly this film's forte in this regard, but it still works at getting people laughing. I especially thought the abrupt ending worked as well; it reaffirmed that 'Burn After Reading' is just completely ludicrous, no-harm fun. Expand
  42. MartinS.
    Oct 26, 2008
    9
    Easily the funiest movie I've seen all year.
  43. Aaron
    Oct 8, 2008
    10
    Wickedly dark humor with the Coen Brothers sick sense of humor. Outstanding cast doing satire. If you are looking for realism don't bother. But the end of the movie makes a farce of everything we know is screwed up. What a refreshing change.
  44. GlenM.
    Sep 12, 2008
    9
    This movie is ridiculously hilarious. The Coen brothers continue to crank out ballsy movie's that just flat out do not appeal to the general public...and i feel that they get some sort of satisfaction out of it.
  45. MarkR.
    Sep 13, 2008
    9
    It's an 97 minute Seinfeld episode without Seinfeld, but I mean that in a good way. Brad Pitt takes over for Kramer, Malkovich is Neuman, McDormand is Elaine and the film is essentially about nothing in particular. It never taking itself too seriously, and weaves many smooth twists and turns throughout the story. It is a story of greedy, idiotic, selfish and downright mean people It's an 97 minute Seinfeld episode without Seinfeld, but I mean that in a good way. Brad Pitt takes over for Kramer, Malkovich is Neuman, McDormand is Elaine and the film is essentially about nothing in particular. It never taking itself too seriously, and weaves many smooth twists and turns throughout the story. It is a story of greedy, idiotic, selfish and downright mean people that I thoroughly enjoyed. If I watch it again, I'm sure I'll laugh out loud at the same spots and have a smile on my face as the lights come on. Go see it, but don't take it too seriously either. Expand
  46. DaniilK.
    Sep 13, 2008
    10
    Absolutely Hysterical!!! The chaos of life doesn't end, and the government can't do anything right.
  47. GeorgeN.
    Sep 13, 2008
    9
    I just got back and have to say I enjoyed it. This movie was not only hilarious but complex enough intrigue me The Coen's really know how to make a great movie!
  48. KC.
    Sep 15, 2008
    8
    Very enjoyable and funny movie; dark...but funny (typical Coen brothers slant and violence). If you're a fan of the Coens and their films such as Fargo, then you will like this; if not, then you will most likely hate this (like my wife did). I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the actors and how they were stretched to act outside of their normal roles. Pitt was amazingly funny, Very enjoyable and funny movie; dark...but funny (typical Coen brothers slant and violence). If you're a fan of the Coens and their films such as Fargo, then you will like this; if not, then you will most likely hate this (like my wife did). I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the actors and how they were stretched to act outside of their normal roles. Pitt was amazingly funny, Malkovich was spot on and funny in his own serious way, and McDormand stole the whole movie for me...she was the more grounded character who this whole twisted plot revolves around. One of the best films I've seen this year. Great fun. Expand
  49. AlanL.
    Sep 19, 2008
    8
    This is a movie of sympathetic characters with unsympathetic goals. I wanted to save all of them from themselves and each other. Politically, it underscored the conservative point that the world is maybe unchangingly mean because people are stupid and greedy and the liberal point that maybe you have to apply thought and compassion because the alternative is unthinkable. Except for the This is a movie of sympathetic characters with unsympathetic goals. I wanted to save all of them from themselves and each other. Politically, it underscored the conservative point that the world is maybe unchangingly mean because people are stupid and greedy and the liberal point that maybe you have to apply thought and compassion because the alternative is unthinkable. Except for the Coens. As for humor, it made me laugh maybe five times in the theater but made me laugh maybe twenty or so in the following week. It's like Dr. Strangelove, really. Expand
  50. MichaelK.
    Sep 20, 2008
    7
    A fun and dark comedy faithful to the previous types of films the coens have made.
  51. CameronP.
    Sep 25, 2008
    8
    Burn After Reading was a hilarious comedy that was surprisingly dark.
  52. NathanL.
    Sep 8, 2008
    8
    I gotta say, this was a very good time. No Country For Old Men was my favorite movie of last year much as Fargo was my favorite movie of 1996 and on both occasions their follow ups to great work (The Big Lebowski) have been with an exercise in the very fun of creativity. They do not need to prove to us that they can make a great movie, we already know this, so what they give us is a plot I gotta say, this was a very good time. No Country For Old Men was my favorite movie of last year much as Fargo was my favorite movie of 1996 and on both occasions their follow ups to great work (The Big Lebowski) have been with an exercise in the very fun of creativity. They do not need to prove to us that they can make a great movie, we already know this, so what they give us is a plot that is all about how stupid can we make these characters actions and still believe that they would do these things. I believe!!! This is largely because of a uniformly wonderful cast that really leaves you wondering what crazy thing the next person is going to do. However, Brad Pitt must get the highest praise here for his bumbling Chad. He takes a very simple stereotype and turns him into a very memorable character. Is this movie as good as the Coen greats? No. But it will fit just fine into the library of strangely clever Coen films that have endured for decades. Expand
  53. JaneA
    Jan 25, 2009
    9
    The product of a brilliant and well-respected cast and a pair of ingenius directors. This movie was filled with a mature, dark humor that still invoked a laugh-out-loud response and is one of the few movies I deem worthy of also purchasing when out on DVD.
  54. JohnL.
    Jan 7, 2009
    8
    It's an empty and shocking mess with characters that are almost impossible to like - and I loved every minute of it. The critics who panned this movie simply didn't get the core joke: real people have lives that really are this pointless and mundane. As the final scene of the movie cleverly points out - "What did we learn from all of this? Never to do it again!" Bravo, Coen brothers.
  55. FranceL.
    Feb 3, 2009
    10
    Satire has never been more fun, and Pitt never better than in this zany comic thriller. Bumbling CIA bureaucrats, DC officials full of themselves, divorce attorneys, the institution of marriage, online dating services, cosmetic surgeons, HMO's, a pediatrician from hell...nothing is spared in this very clever and very entertaining movie. A good time was had by all, including this viewer.
  56. ShannonH.
    Mar 6, 2009
    10
    Awesome dark comedy.
  57. Luree
    Nov 13, 2008
    8
    Tight editing, plot twists, sudden violence, funny, cool ending. Loved it - walked out of the theater feeling like I'd really seen a good movie.
  58. AngeR.
    Nov 18, 2008
    10
    A dark and brilliant pleasure.
  59. GemmaD.
    Nov 9, 2008
    10
    I find the mixed reviews interesting. The friend I watched this movie with didn't like it at all, I loved it. Unlike myself she didn't think it was funny and argued that there was a lack of likeable characters. Indeed, all characters seem to suffer from a mid-life crisis and are completely egotistic in how they deal with life and especially each other, but in this case I thought I find the mixed reviews interesting. The friend I watched this movie with didn't like it at all, I loved it. Unlike myself she didn't think it was funny and argued that there was a lack of likeable characters. Indeed, all characters seem to suffer from a mid-life crisis and are completely egotistic in how they deal with life and especially each other, but in this case I thought this added to the movies strength, humour and point. Fargo meets Lebowski, as far as I'm concerned. Expand
  60. TonyO.
    Dec 8, 2008
    9
    Stimulating and very different, and from the look of these reviews, fairly widely misunderstood. To my mind, this was a rather better movie that "No Country for Old Men". It was beautifully acted by the entire ensemble (special kudos for Brad, who was hysterically funny), immaculately scripted, and deftly directed. Lots of things that could be commented on, but the most interesting thing Stimulating and very different, and from the look of these reviews, fairly widely misunderstood. To my mind, this was a rather better movie that "No Country for Old Men". It was beautifully acted by the entire ensemble (special kudos for Brad, who was hysterically funny), immaculately scripted, and deftly directed. Lots of things that could be commented on, but the most interesting thing for me was the total lack of likeable characters. It is a brave movie that doesn't seek the empathy vote. The lack of any redeeming qualities in the female characters was especially challenging. When was the last time we had a non-sexist movie about women who don't nurture, who are insanely selfish, and who are manipulative to the nth degree? And the men are nearly as bad. Not a spy movie, not a caper movie, not a sit com. Watching basically makes you uncomfortable while you simultaneously laugh, and that is why it is worth the effort. Not every movie should be a feel good experience. Expand
  61. hardenb.
    Aug 27, 2008
    8
    It's not Perfect like No Country for Old men. This movie is just pretty good. Definite Oscars for acting, especially for Brad Pitt. Hopefully he'll go for his second Oscar nomination. The screenplay and writing overall is very good. It's just that the movie truly has nothing to it. It has a story, it just needs a bit more to make it full. Some moments are dull. But truly I It's not Perfect like No Country for Old men. This movie is just pretty good. Definite Oscars for acting, especially for Brad Pitt. Hopefully he'll go for his second Oscar nomination. The screenplay and writing overall is very good. It's just that the movie truly has nothing to it. It has a story, it just needs a bit more to make it full. Some moments are dull. But truly I was thoroughly entertained. George Cloony was great as a playmate as he screws with Oscar winner Tilda Swinton. Overall I liked it. It's not the masterpiece it could have been, but it's truly just a fun and funny movie. It's Coen Galoure. Expand
  62. Batmanrocks!h.
    Aug 27, 2008
    10
    A Great Movie! I didin't expect anything because the Coen's last movie had a terrible ending and it was slow and overall pointless and very very very very overrated getting 4 Oscars including Best Picture. Like whats wrong with the academy. They don't give fargo Best Picture but they give No Country for Old men best Picture? That's a sin!!! But this movie by itself was A Great Movie! I didin't expect anything because the Coen's last movie had a terrible ending and it was slow and overall pointless and very very very very overrated getting 4 Oscars including Best Picture. Like whats wrong with the academy. They don't give fargo Best Picture but they give No Country for Old men best Picture? That's a sin!!! But this movie by itself was truly shocking. I LOVED IT! It's cherishing, personally. It's a great black comedy that exceeds to the standard of Fargo. It's actually better than Fargo. Anyway, go see it. It's better than the dark knight. Like, thats phenomenal!!! Expand
  63. JaredC.
    Aug 28, 2008
    10
    This was unexpectedly brilliant. Better than Fargo, comparing its dark comedy similarities. Beyond better than No Country and Big Lebowski, I think the Coen's can win best picture once again twice in a row, for there magnificent Burn After Reading. Hopefully if Heath Ledger doesn't win an Oscar, the Pitt better get it. He's totally kickass. This movie's the bomb man. This was unexpectedly brilliant. Better than Fargo, comparing its dark comedy similarities. Beyond better than No Country and Big Lebowski, I think the Coen's can win best picture once again twice in a row, for there magnificent Burn After Reading. Hopefully if Heath Ledger doesn't win an Oscar, the Pitt better get it. He's totally kickass. This movie's the bomb man. It's goin' directly on the correct road to the Oscars. Expand
  64. DiegoH.
    Aug 29, 2008
    9
    The Coen's have improved since Blood Simple. Starting with Fargo to The Big lebowski and O'Brother, then take a risky shot at the dark and bloodthirsty No Country, which was a great impression on them. Then, by using all their strengths, combining Fargo's brilliantly scripted humor and mixing it with No Country's scense of darkness relating to brutal violence. Use each The Coen's have improved since Blood Simple. Starting with Fargo to The Big lebowski and O'Brother, then take a risky shot at the dark and bloodthirsty No Country, which was a great impression on them. Then, by using all their strengths, combining Fargo's brilliantly scripted humor and mixing it with No Country's scense of darkness relating to brutal violence. Use each and every one of their styles: Blood Simples mood, O'Brothers active comedy, and using it in their new amazing motion picture. It's the movie that represents what type of directors they are. A dark comedy mix, that's there style. With smart ways of doing things, the Coen's construct a coherently paced film, by using time to develop the titles proposition, meaning: (from my opinion) burn the dead body because you read the CIA's files on the disc that Brad Pitt coincidently found. Now I started off on Pit's side, 'cause he was funny and could follow what's going on easily. If Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight doesn't win an Oscar for Best supporting actor, then Brad Pitt will. He's had a great career, and really Terry Gilliam and mostly David Fincher made him so famous. Fincher's disturbing gritty crim story: Se7en, whom was the lead in the role did a fine job. Then went to the direct, top box office hit, Fincher's Fight Club. Now this one did so well, and with pitt in it, he busted his career up for more available roles in films. And also don't forget, Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys (in which Brad was nominated for an Oscar) really did well. Yes, he's had an exceptionally great career, and I personally think it's finally his time. Clooney, he did well, and I kind of joined his side about half way in. I just loved how he had a blast from start to finish. No the isn't perfect, and not the Coen's best movie (although it could probably win best picture), No Country is and this is most likely his third best film behind Farho which is in second. It's just, the movie thought it was so high on itself, which is why I don't give it a 10/10. Therefore it gets 9/10. It's excellent, This movie will take their career to another level, and same goes for Brad Pitt's. Expand
  65. MatthewL.
    Sep 12, 2008
    9
    A good blend of the inanity of The Big Lebowski and the darkness of Fargo. Definitely stronger than Intolerable Cruelty or The Ladykillers, but I guess that's not saying much. I liked it a lot.
  66. AB.
    Sep 13, 2008
    9
    This is certainly not masterpiece in the same way as Fargo or No Country, but certainly an instant cult classic. Burn after Reading feels like a joke the Coen brothers plays on its audience, the comedy genre and all of Hollywood. If you are the kind of person who loves to laugh at people, including yourself, you will "get" this picture. Otherwise, you will chuckle at the sheer This is certainly not masterpiece in the same way as Fargo or No Country, but certainly an instant cult classic. Burn after Reading feels like a joke the Coen brothers plays on its audience, the comedy genre and all of Hollywood. If you are the kind of person who loves to laugh at people, including yourself, you will "get" this picture. Otherwise, you will chuckle at the sheer ridiculousness, but in the end feel like you've been duped somehow, although not quite sure why or how. To me, people's reactions to the movie is a hilarious continuation of the deeper layer of comedy that is the fundamental premise of this movie. Like previous Coen flicks, there is a simple take home message with an almost Aesop-like quality. The difference this time around is that the moral is not so moral, but rather nihilistic. The movie feels so unsatisfying because it outlines how unjust, random and hilarious the world can be, so one might as well develop a sense of humor. The laughter itself is what makes this movie satisfying, as well as the lasting sense of audacity. Although the spirit of this movie is one of disdain for formulaic movies and seems to say the Coen brothers are smarter than you and everyone else (they are), the casting is superb and the acting is great--although the disgusting chemistry between Clooney and McDormand takes the comedic exaggeration too far--and more importantly, it made me laugh until my sides hurt more than once. What more can you ask of entertainment? Burn After Reading is a 9 for those who love dark, dark comedy and a 6 for those who don't. And yes, Pitt is fantastic in this role. Expand
  67. CarolM.
    Sep 13, 2008
    9
    I thought the movie was very good. Great plot twists.
  68. RobertO.
    Sep 13, 2008
    8
    Silly in the grand tradition (Marx Brothers) a good evenings entertainment. What a fabulous cast who did a great job and enjoyed themselves immensely.
  69. NIckR.
    Sep 15, 2008
    10
    I thought this movie was brilliant. However, you have to have the right sense of humour to truly enjoy it. I don't think its a movie just about stupidity, it is about American stupidity. The characters are all archetypal, and seem to hilariously reflect a kind of paranoia that historically defines this country. I thought it was brilliant, but I understand why some without my sense of I thought this movie was brilliant. However, you have to have the right sense of humour to truly enjoy it. I don't think its a movie just about stupidity, it is about American stupidity. The characters are all archetypal, and seem to hilariously reflect a kind of paranoia that historically defines this country. I thought it was brilliant, but I understand why some without my sense of humour may not have enjoyed it. Expand
  70. DarrellS.
    Sep 15, 2008
    10
    The Coen Brothers do it again. They could seriously film a turd for a few hours, and it would still be one of the greatest movies ever.
  71. HollyC.
    Sep 15, 2008
    9
    Oh man. This was an unexpectedly great little movie...though I'm not sure what I expected --it definitely surpassed it. Burn After Reading definitely resembles Fargo the most though it's far more pessimistic and funnier at the same time. Almost all the characters give a very strong impression--even the ones on-screen for only a couple minutes. I thoroughly enjoyed this film Oh man. This was an unexpectedly great little movie...though I'm not sure what I expected --it definitely surpassed it. Burn After Reading definitely resembles Fargo the most though it's far more pessimistic and funnier at the same time. Almost all the characters give a very strong impression--even the ones on-screen for only a couple minutes. I thoroughly enjoyed this film There are a few moments of sheer laughter--as well as sheer horror---very much a Coen Brothers movie in every way---and for me, one of there best. Expand
  72. RobertC.
    Sep 18, 2008
    10
    Nick R., I know what you mean. This is not just a "minor Coen", not just a one-off light comedy. It's a statement on the Washington psychosis. The proletarian population tends to forget about this class of people- the Beltway culture- and they are prime material for satire. You can really "read into" this film. I can't believe the critics are missing the point. Also, something Nick R., I know what you mean. This is not just a "minor Coen", not just a one-off light comedy. It's a statement on the Washington psychosis. The proletarian population tends to forget about this class of people- the Beltway culture- and they are prime material for satire. You can really "read into" this film. I can't believe the critics are missing the point. Also, something must be said about the craft. The Coens are master storytellers. Their screenplays are so tight. Fargo, Lebowski, No Country and Burn are the greatest examples of their "THIS happens so THIS happens so THIS happens" style. Brilliant film. Brilliant acting. I loved seeing the worldly Brad Pitt act like a retard. Expand
  73. KevinB.
    Sep 18, 2008
    9
    I went in to this movie with somewhat low expectations because of many of these reviews. I was surprised to find a great movie that ranks up there with other great Coen brothers films. It was a very funny script while still crafting an intriguing story and didn't need to rely on a typical "funny man" to cover up sub-par comedic writing. A clever, entertaining movie. I don't I went in to this movie with somewhat low expectations because of many of these reviews. I was surprised to find a great movie that ranks up there with other great Coen brothers films. It was a very funny script while still crafting an intriguing story and didn't need to rely on a typical "funny man" to cover up sub-par comedic writing. A clever, entertaining movie. I don't understand the criticism. Expand
  74. Fantasy
    Sep 25, 2008
    10
    I'm amazed at these reviews. We saw this in a packed theater. It is a black comedy, a satire, and the acting was simply outstanding. At the end of the movie the last 5 minutes I thought I was going to wet myself as the Coen Brothers had the audience howling. I don't mean just us I mean the entire theater had tears rolling down their cheeks. It was just too funny. For those of I'm amazed at these reviews. We saw this in a packed theater. It is a black comedy, a satire, and the acting was simply outstanding. At the end of the movie the last 5 minutes I thought I was going to wet myself as the Coen Brothers had the audience howling. I don't mean just us I mean the entire theater had tears rolling down their cheeks. It was just too funny. For those of you who didn't like this, you guys need to lighten up. Expand
  75. KevinH.
    Sep 27, 2008
    9
    First off let me preface this review with the statement that this movie isn't for everyone. Comedy films are the most subjective of all genres. When i saw this film last night i couldn't understand why i was laughing every 20 seconds whereas only a couple other people laughed at all during the entire screening. If you have watched pretty much all the coen brothers comedies since First off let me preface this review with the statement that this movie isn't for everyone. Comedy films are the most subjective of all genres. When i saw this film last night i couldn't understand why i was laughing every 20 seconds whereas only a couple other people laughed at all during the entire screening. If you have watched pretty much all the coen brothers comedies since fargo you will probably love this. If you have a very dark sense of humor and your favorite rolling stones song is paint it black this is your movie. The Coen brothers have the best ability for characterization of any filmmakers working in america. Never completely stereotypical characters but stereotypical enough that we can relate to them and recognize a type. The film is a comic symphony where the laughs are interspersed at the beginning and the big laughs are set up for later only to reach a crescendo in the last half hour. it's a movie you really have to pay attention too and if you pay enough attention you will be rewarded. Is the film really about anything. My feeling is that the coen brothers films never have a giant, didactic and overarching theme. The satirical look at the characters displays tiny small themes that are all found within the subtext of the immediate scene. The acting is amazing with brad pitt doing what will be remembered as one of his best films along clooney. so understated most of the way through but they are all so immersed in character that it's amazing and whenever a character does something that seems ridiculous, the actors are that character so indelibly that it makes sense. In regards to the coen brothers exploiting there characters with a mean spirited hatred. I disagree. To understand character as well as the coen's do, one has to love people in general. The only way you can pull off this type of comedy is to love people because of their idiosyncracies and not in spite of them. there comedy sensiblities remind me of preston sturges 40's films and yes O Brother Where art thou's title is a reference to sturges' sullivan's travels. Could have been a 10 that i gave it but it wasn't perfect. Expand
  76. jeremyashlyn
    Jan 17, 2009
    10
    A punchy little pulp film. funny and cute.
  77. johnE.
    Feb 19, 2009
    10
    loved every second of it. If you didn't like it its probably because you are too dumb to get it.
  78. gschmidt
    Dec 17, 2008
    9
    Has a bit of everything, always keeps you guessing, and even manages to make a statement about some of our values as a society.
  79. sazziesazzie
    Dec 26, 2008
    7
    I enjoyed this because it was blackly funny and unpredictable, and because cloony's character was hilarious. I can't believe every critic seemed to like Brad though ---he was really overacting and his character was flat; I was glad that he wasn't in the whole film. The two CIA guys were superb, especially the closing scene.
  80. Aug 16, 2010
    8
    "Burn After Reading" is all about stupidity and pointlessness, as we find out near the end of the film. Its characters are all idiots and rather stupid, and their moronic ways cross each other into violence, sex, and mishappenings throughout this strange **** that the Coen brothers. I will say that it never ceases to be funny or interesting, and that Malkovich is hilarious as the CIA"Burn After Reading" is all about stupidity and pointlessness, as we find out near the end of the film. Its characters are all idiots and rather stupid, and their moronic ways cross each other into violence, sex, and mishappenings throughout this strange **** that the Coen brothers. I will say that it never ceases to be funny or interesting, and that Malkovich is hilarious as the CIA operative with a wild temper and a very dirty mouth. Expand
  81. Dec 15, 2010
    9
    I find metacritic users to be so fickle in their tastes. This movie is so enjoyable, and it has tons of repeat value. The cast is in top form, particularly Brad Pitt. So much better than the lackluster rating it's got on here.
  82. Jul 1, 2011
    8
    Oh the Coen Brothers. They never fail to amaze me. With every single film they release they capture something that lures you into the type of film. In No Country For Old Men what the Coen Brothers captured in that film was Anton's behaviour and generated it into something only they can do. Same with Fargo but it wasn't the villain who was blessed by the Coens. It was the protagonist. InOh the Coen Brothers. They never fail to amaze me. With every single film they release they capture something that lures you into the type of film. In No Country For Old Men what the Coen Brothers captured in that film was Anton's behaviour and generated it into something only they can do. Same with Fargo but it wasn't the villain who was blessed by the Coens. It was the protagonist. In this film it's the whole entire cast. And that's why so many people don't understand this film. Most of you probably think this film is just about stupid people who do stupid things. Well you're all right about that but this film is much more than that. It's about the whole world. It's about how the whole world is going to become stupid as time goes by and how very small things nowadays can lead to ginormous catastrophes. There's always the news as an example. People going to war and killing each other. Then there's things you don't hear on the news but things you experience in every day life. Like modern high schools for example. The students are becoming dumber and dumber and deliberately not paying any attention to the teachers whatsoever just to act hard and cool in front of their mates. So where I'm coming from? So that's all I really need to explain. Now here are my opinions on the movie. It has a good and solid cast. Brad Pitt and George Clooney were amazing. The others were good too. And I also like the way this film is a Black Comedy. I love Black Comedies. The humour in them is unusual. And that's what I like about them. The story was good too but it was challenging during some parts. I don't really have any criticisms for this movie so I'm just going to give it a 8/10 for it's good humour and it's memorable characters. The bad thing is that it's a little bit too long but it doesn't over do it. I hope you liked my review! Expand
  83. Apr 24, 2015
    8
    Burn After Reading is another great Cohen brothers movie. It has a slow burn feel to it, with a lot of the fun coming in after repeat viewings. The devil is in the small random details that truly bring on the chuckles. George Clooney's obsession with peoples wood flooring, the way that Mr. Crapokin is always referred to as Mr. Crapkin or the repeated use of the words Tuckman-MarshBurn After Reading is another great Cohen brothers movie. It has a slow burn feel to it, with a lot of the fun coming in after repeat viewings. The devil is in the small random details that truly bring on the chuckles. George Clooney's obsession with peoples wood flooring, the way that Mr. Crapokin is always referred to as Mr. Crapkin or the repeated use of the words Tuckman-Marsh certainly stick in the mind. Burn After Reading is just great stuff all round. Expand
  84. May 2, 2011
    7
    Initially, you're trying to guess "What's going on here", but as the film progresses, you will start to get the point, and from that moment, you'll be smiling till the end.
  85. Aug 27, 2014
    8
    Don't look over this one, it's actually the Coens Brothers strongest comedy to date. Burn After Reading is quick-witted and smart. You'll have as much fun as Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand and George Clooney are having.
  86. Jun 10, 2012
    10
    I loved the castI loved the cast . Expand
  87. Jul 26, 2014
    8
    I am usually not a huge fan of the Coen Brothers, but this one was really good. First off, the comedy is on point as this one, in particular Brad Pitt's character, is entirely hilarious. Typically, I do not love their brand of comedy, as I thought Raising Arizona and O, Brother Where Art Thou were ok to pretty good films, but not very funny and I did not enjoy The Big Lebowski. However,I am usually not a huge fan of the Coen Brothers, but this one was really good. First off, the comedy is on point as this one, in particular Brad Pitt's character, is entirely hilarious. Typically, I do not love their brand of comedy, as I thought Raising Arizona and O, Brother Where Art Thou were ok to pretty good films, but not very funny and I did not enjoy The Big Lebowski. However, this one is totally different and takes the best of their past films (in particular, this one feels similar to Fargo, though funnier) and puts it together with some great laughs. As is typical, the writing is great and the direction here is very good. the acting is also good, especially from Pitt, Frances McDormand, and George Clooney. Malkovich and Tilda Swinton are also solid. In addition, the plot is really fun. It is crazy and hectic, but is a ton of fun to watch unfold and really makes for an enjoyable viewing experience. Overall, this one may not be the Coen Brothers' most acclaimed films, but it is certainly a very good film with a ton of laughs and is a worthy entry into their filmography. Expand
  88. Aug 1, 2013
    9
    Me reí mucho con esta película; una dirección magnifica de los hermanos que siempre lo dejan boqui-abierto con sus producciones. Altamente recomendada.
  89. Jul 23, 2014
    8
    Burn After Reading is one of the Coen Brothers' most underrated work, who better to gives us a great deadpan/dark comedy than the Coens. The film has very funny jokes in a very specific way. The Cast Is Just Great
Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37
  1. Joel and Ethan Coen clearly are in a prankish mood, knocking out a minor piece of silliness with all the trappings of an A-list studio movie.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    30
    Either the Coens failed, or I didn't figure out what they're attempting. I must be like Harry or Osborne, pretending to a sophistication I lack. Burn After Reading is a movie about stupidity that left me feeling stupid.