User Score
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. Feb 7, 2013
    6
    Right up until the end I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking at. Burn After Readinge alternated between being a drama, a comedy and a spy-thriller. It started out as an incoherent mess and if it wasn't for the closing narrative it would have ended us as such. Still, inbetween it gave quite a few good moments as it tried to portray an "every day" account of people's lives becomingRight up until the end I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking at. Burn After Readinge alternated between being a drama, a comedy and a spy-thriller. It started out as an incoherent mess and if it wasn't for the closing narrative it would have ended us as such. Still, inbetween it gave quite a few good moments as it tried to portray an "every day" account of people's lives becoming intertwined. The characters were slightly one-dimensional but this did also allow for some eccentrics that would otherwise feel out of place. All in all an entertaining movie but don't expect anything award winning. Expand
  5. Sep 7, 2011
    5
    This is the epitome of mediocre movies. After watching it I seriously could not decide if I liked it or not. The acting is great. It has some funny moments. There are some small twists that I seriously did not see coming. But the story is lackluster, as are most of the characters. While the plot is resolved at the end, you're kind of left feeling like the entire movie was a waste of time.
  6. 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.
  7. Mar 18, 2012
    4
    Frances McDormand and George Clooney lead this somewhat confusing and at times startlingly violent film about what happens when two people that put money (or possible larger breasts) over their safety. When two gym workers find a CD containing sensitive CIA information, they embark on a dangerous quest to receive their reward for being 'good samaritans'. Despite the label comedy, it is notFrances McDormand and George Clooney lead this somewhat confusing and at times startlingly violent film about what happens when two people that put money (or possible larger breasts) over their safety. When two gym workers find a CD containing sensitive CIA information, they embark on a dangerous quest to receive their reward for being 'good samaritans'. Despite the label comedy, it is not a terribly funny movie, as the jokes are few and far between. It isn't worth the hype, however, if you like crime drama kinda stuff, you should at least try it. Expand
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 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
    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.
    Expand
  11. 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.
  12. BM.
    Oct 5, 2008
    3
    Horrible waste of money. was mildly amusing at best. story could've been made into something neat but instead was a wash of nothing. You know those types of movies that just don't have any meaning or resolution. Boring, pointless waste of time and money. Do not see this movie.
  13. ALF
    Sep 25, 2011
    0
    A film that is proof positive that if film critics like it, it has to be bad. This film goes back to the time when US comedy did not travel. Actually from brain to mouth is usually to far for most alleged comedy. Frances McDormand great actress but in this I could have quite cheerfully beaten her to death as I found her incredibly irritating all the way through. Brad Pitt. Terrible. As toA film that is proof positive that if film critics like it, it has to be bad. This film goes back to the time when US comedy did not travel. Actually from brain to mouth is usually to far for most alleged comedy. Frances McDormand great actress but in this I could have quite cheerfully beaten her to death as I found her incredibly irritating all the way through. Brad Pitt. Terrible. As to George Clooney. This actor has only made two decent films that I can recall, The Peacemaker and One Fine Day. He was so so in Three Kings, appalling in the dismal US version of Solaris and this was not much better. If you want to see a good spy spoof then watch the infinitely better "Red" with Bruce Willis. This film should be renamed Burn Before Viewing. But as I said it should be thanked for proving how abysmal the film critics are. To those that liked it, I presume they were doing another sale at Lobotomies 'R us! Expand
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. BrockJ.
    Oct 18, 2008
    2
    A few funny moments intertwined with a lot of cheaters. Brad Pitt was fantastic, but unfortunately the same cannot be said about this plot.
  17. 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.
  18. DanielaN.
    Dec 30, 2008
    1
    A few funny lines, other than that, thoughtless, pointless, the violence was senseless, the amount of cursing made it seem like the writers were in 7th grade and had just discovered the words shit and fuck. After seeing this, I spent about 40 minutes talking about how bad it was. I felt robbed of my time, and cheated. It was simply AWFUL.
  19. EoghanM.
    Oct 26, 2008
    10
    One of the best films this year and tat s saying something!
  20. StephanieE.
    Oct 3, 2008
    1
    This movie was absolutely a waste of $16. The only parts of the movie that moved that audience at all were Brad Pitt's idiotic humor and when he was shot in the face. The character Linda was a joke. Not to mention Clooney fit the role of a psycho but that's about it. Don't even get me started on the ending. They briefly explain to you who got shot and who died while This movie was absolutely a waste of $16. The only parts of the movie that moved that audience at all were Brad Pitt's idiotic humor and when he was shot in the face. The character Linda was a joke. Not to mention Clooney fit the role of a psycho but that's about it. Don't even get me started on the ending. They briefly explain to you who got shot and who died while stumbling over words. I'm sorry but I highly doubt a person in such a position (the character who fired Malcovich) would studder while speaking to his superior. This movie was absolutely horrible and I'm pissed that I wasted my money. Expand
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. MichaelS.
    Sep 15, 2008
    4
    This was a horrible mess of a movie that strained too hard to pull out any sort of comedy. Extremely dry and simplistic humor dots the film as if the actors were forced to try and make it funny. The only moments that even cracked a laugh in the whole movie theater were perhaps the least clever, calling a man a, "Jew", a Hispanic worker repeating what he's saying, and two government This was a horrible mess of a movie that strained too hard to pull out any sort of comedy. Extremely dry and simplistic humor dots the film as if the actors were forced to try and make it funny. The only moments that even cracked a laugh in the whole movie theater were perhaps the least clever, calling a man a, "Jew", a Hispanic worker repeating what he's saying, and two government officials trying to figure out whats going on, mark all three funny moments in the film. As well, the first quarter of the movie before the, "Burn After Reading" file is discovered is absolutely unneeded, it slowly, almost to the point of nauseatingly fleshes out the main characters, so much that I think I've seen soap operas wrap up character history faster. The entire movie was a failure at an attempt to entertain, but spot on when it comes to portraying how stupid the characters were, the last three minutes of the show are all you truly need to watch, as this movie is quite the head-snapper, as in I'm trying not to pass out from the sheer stupidity this film made me endure. Expand
  24. 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
  25. LucaS.
    Sep 24, 2008
    3
    One of the most boring and useless film in this 2008. Stay away from it. it's a waste of money,time and patience.
  26. LinL.
    Jan 4, 2009
    2
    Despite the fantastic cast, this was extraordinarily boring and bereft of laughs. I kept waiting for it to get funny, clever, entertaining . . . never happened.
  27. 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!
  28. CraigR.
    Mar 2, 2009
    3
    Truly dismal. A fim about nothing. It's like they got 3/4 of the way through and gave up any hopes of a story.
  29. MikeH
    Aug 29, 2009
    0
    people giving "burn after reading" any score above zero are reading too much into the movie. you could give them a blank piece of paper and it would keep them entertained for hours, as they would find some 'hidden meaning' within it. they probably saw movie critics' ratings for "no country for old men" and thought that by giving a high rating to the coen brothers' next people giving "burn after reading" any score above zero are reading too much into the movie. you could give them a blank piece of paper and it would keep them entertained for hours, as they would find some 'hidden meaning' within it. they probably saw movie critics' ratings for "no country for old men" and thought that by giving a high rating to the coen brothers' next nonsensical movie they would appear 'smart' in movie critics' eyes. i watched this entire movie, constantly expecting something interesting to happen. it didn't. dreadful! Expand
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.