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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 309 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
    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
    Shallow and proud of it, an antic cartoon that lacks the comic inspiration to go the distance.
  7. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    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: 93 out of 157
  2. Negative: 42 out of 157
  1. Feb 4, 2013
    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.
  2. Jun 10, 2012
    I loved the cast . Expand
  3. Apr 21, 2012
    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. Expand
  4. Aug 16, 2010
    "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. May 2, 2011
    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. Expand
  6. Dec 26, 2010
    I enjoyed Burn After Reading for it's unconventional plot and hilarious performance from Brad Pitt. So many stupid people played by a cast of awesomeness. But this movie was missing quite a few things. It didn't really have a great impact and I think I know why. The Coens found great success with their Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men and tried to re-create that success, and who wouldn't? They created some form of success, but this movie fell short of being memorable. The performances of the stupid people in Washington felt a bit overplayed at times and some of the jokes we admit are funny, but not very. Still, Pitt's acting shines in this one, so I'll say that this movie is okay in my book. Expand
  7. ALF
    Sep 25, 2011
    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 157 User Reviews