7.0/10
280,488
578 user 352 critic

Burn After Reading (2008)

Trailer
1:47 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
A disk containing mysterious information from a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous and daft gym employees who attempt to sell it.

Directors:

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Reviews
Popularity
1,167 ( 160)

A Guide to the Films of the Coen Brothers

From Blood Simple to the new The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, we take a look at the offbeat stylings of Academy Award-winners Joel and Ethan Coen.

Dude, let's go bowling

Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 5 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Adventure | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In the deep south during the 1930s, three escaped convicts search for hidden treasure while a relentless lawman pursues them.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson
True Grit (2010)
Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A stubborn teenager enlists the help of a tough U.S. Marshal to track down her father's murderer.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld
A Serious Man (2009)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Larry Gopnik, a Midwestern physics teacher, watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents. Though seeking meaning and answers amidst his turmoils, he seems to keep sinking.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick
Barton Fink (1991)
Comedy | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family's quintuplets, their lives become more complicated than they anticipated.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, Trey Wilson
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
Comedy | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A naive business graduate is installed as president of a manufacturing company as part of a stock scam.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Tim Robbins, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Comedy | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An eccentric, if not charming Southern professor and his crew pose as a classical ensemble in order to rob a casino, all under the nose of his unsuspecting but sharp old landlady.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Tom Hanks, Marlon Wayans, Irma P. Hall
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Tom Regan, an advisor to a Prohibition-era crime boss, tries to keep the peace between warring mobs but gets caught in divided loyalties.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A beautiful gold digger matches wits with a shrewd Beverly Hills divorce lawyer who is increasingly attracted to her.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton
Fargo (1996)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George Clooney ... Harry Pfarrer
Frances McDormand ... Linda Litzke
Brad Pitt ... Chad Feldheimer
John Malkovich ... Osborne Cox
Tilda Swinton ... Katie Cox
Richard Jenkins ... Ted
Elizabeth Marvel ... Sandy Pfarrer
David Rasche ... CIA Officer
J.K. Simmons ... CIA Superior (as JK Simmons)
Olek Krupa ... Krapotkin
Michael Countryman ... Alan
Kevin Sussman ... Tuchman Marsh Man
J.R. Horne J.R. Horne ... Divorce Lawyer (as JR Horne)
Hamilton Clancy ... Peck
Armand Schultz ... Olson
Edit

Storyline

Osbourne Cox, a Balkan expert, resigned from the CIA because of a drinking problem, so he begins a memoir. His wife wants a divorce and expects her lover, Harry, a philandering State Department marshal, to leave his wife. A CD-ROM falls out of a gym bag at a Georgetown fitness center. Two employees there try to turn it into cash: Linda, who wants money for cosmetic surgery, and Chad, an amiable goof. Information on the disc leads them to Osbourne who rejects their sales pitch; then they visit the Russian embassy. To sweeten the pot, they decide they need more of Osbourne's secrets. Meanwhile, Linda's boss likes her, and Harry's wife leaves for a book tour. All roads lead to Osbourne's house. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Intelligence is only their job. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA | UK | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 September 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Burn After Reading See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$37,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$19,128,001, 14 September 2008, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$60,355,347, 25 December 2008

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$163,720,069, 25 December 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The Coen Brothers (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) and their long-time composer, Carter Burwell, decided that the movie should have a bombastic music score that suggested 'meaning without meaning' and chose Jerry Goldsmith's percussive music for Seven Days in May (1964), as its chief inspiration. See more »

Goofs

The CIA Supervisor states that Venezuela does not have an extradition treaty with the US. Venezuela has had a bilateral extradition treaty with the US since 1923. See more »

Quotes

Chad Feldheimer: Appearances can be... deceptive.
See more »

Crazy Credits

As usual, the Coen Brothers edited this film under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes See more »

Connections

References The Ladykillers (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Nocturne in G Major, Op, 37, No. 2
(1839)
Written by Frédéric Chopin (as Fryderyk Chopin)
Performed by Idil Biret
Courtesy of Naxos of America
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Another Hit from the genius of the Coens.
4 September 2008 | by swlabr413See all my reviews

There's a point in this movie that George Clooney's character, Harry Pfarrer shows Frances McDormand's character Linda Litzke something that we've seen him working on for about half the movie. It was so surprising when I first saw it, that at first, I didn't even know what it was.

Once again, the Coens have created wonderful characters, including Clooney, who is a womanizer and paranoid that people are following him, and McDormand, who just wants plastic surgery in order to look better. Also, there's John Malkovich as Osbourne Cox, who "doesn't have a drinking problem," and maybe the best in the movie, Brad Pitt as Chad, a clueless gym employee who is pushed along by McDormand.

The only character that isn't up to par with the rest is Tilda Swinton's character of Katie Cox, Osbourne's wife. She doesn't get as many laughs as the rest, and it seems like the Coens just needed her as a plot device rather than an actual character. However, she may not be funny, but she does play the character well.

The writing is brilliant and the Coens weave the story in such a way that it reminds me of their previous movie, The Big Lebowski. In the end, as J.K. Simmons character sums it up himself, nothing really happens, but while watching it all unfold, you can't help but laugh at the absurdity.


248 of 467 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 578 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Comedy Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular comedy titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed