Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 313 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37
  1. 100
    After the portentous "No Country for Old Men," Joel and Ethan Coen return to their trademark brand of cruel, misanthropic farce, and for dark laughs and hurtling narrative momentum this spy caper is their best work since "Fargo."
  2. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    80
    If "No Country For Old Men" was vintage port, Burn After Reading is a shot of tequila: eye watering and hard to swallow, but the after-effect is terrific.
  3. 75
    The characters are zany, the plot coils upon itself with dizzy zeal, and the roles seem like a perfect fit for the actors -- yes, even Brad Pitt, as Chad, a gum-chewing, fuzzy-headed physical fitness instructor. I've always thought of him as a fine actor, but here he reveals a dimension that, shall I say, we haven't seen before.
  4. 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.
  5. 63
    The film has enough funny lines and weird situations - some comedy business with a sex chair lovingly constructed by the Clooney character is the highlight - that it could age into a cult film like "The Big Lebowski."
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    50
    Shallow and proud of it, an antic cartoon that lacks the comic inspiration to go the distance.
  7. 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.

See all 37 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 96 out of 160
  2. Negative: 42 out of 160
  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 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. 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. Expand
  3. 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. Expand
  4. 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 operative with a wild temper and a very dirty mouth. Expand
  5. 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 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
  6. Aug 24, 2010
    6
    Man loses job at the CIA, writes memoirs, wife is having an affair then wants a divorce, couple of dimwits find the memoirs on a disc, try to sell it to the Russians as Top Secret intelligence.
    Coen brothers do farce. Cast are fine & there are some clever bits in it but took a while to get going.
    Ending does seem a bit rushed too.
    Expand
  7. 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 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

See all 160 User Reviews