7.0/10
282,668
581 user 352 critic

Burn After Reading (2008)

Trailer
1:47 | Trailer
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
1,681 ( 101)

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 

Certificate: 6 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
A Serious Man (2009)
Certificate: 12 Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 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
True Grit (2010)
Certificate: 16 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
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
Fargo (1996)
Certificate: 16 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
Certificate: AL 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)
Certificate: 6 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
Certificate: 6 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
Certificate: 16 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
Certificate: MG6 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
Blood Simple (1984)
Certificate: 16 Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya
Certificate: 12 Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A laconic, chain-smoking barber blackmails his wife's boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning, but his plan goes terribly wrong.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco
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 »


Certificate:

12 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA | UK | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 October 2008 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Quémese después de leerse 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) wrote the character Osborne Cox with John Malkovich in mind. Brad Pitt's character was also written with the actor in mind, inspired by a commercial for which he suffered a similar haircut and dye job. Indeed, the Coen Brothers noted at a Q&A session at the Venice Film Festival that all the leading characters were written for all the leading actors, with the exception of Tilda Swinton. See more »

Goofs

On his 5.2 mile run, after crossing the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Harry runs north up a steep hill on 35th Street, and a black car passes him from behind. In reality, this street runs one-way in the opposite direction. Also, the car appears to continue straight through the intersection, but is then seen going east on Prospect Street; Harry watches it drive away while facing northwest, then turns and jogs away in the same direction the car went, passing the same tree that the car just passed. See more »

Quotes

Osbourne Cox: If you ever carried out your proposed threat you would experience such a shitstorm of consequences my friend your empty little head would be spinning faster than the wheels of your Schwinn bicycle back there.
Chad Feldheimer: [laughing] You think that's a Schwinn!
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is credit for 'The Walrus' See more »

Connections

Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #20.72 (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Old Nassau
(1859)
Music by Karl A. Langlotz
Lyrics by Harlan Page Peck
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.


249 of 468 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 581 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed