Burn After Reading, the new Coen Brother's film is ridiculous.
This is not to say that it is bad, in fact, I quite recommend it. Far from being the best of Joel and Ethan Coen's films (I'd give that distinction to Fargo), Burn is strangely subversive and very fun. Throughout the film, no one ever knows what's going on, least of all the puzzled CIA agents who try, through not very hard, to contain the concentrated madness that follows the main characters around.
One of the best elements of the film is its wicked send-up of the CIA-scandal genre of film that has become so popular in recent years. This film category includes Breach, Syriana, The Interpreter, the Bourne series, and last year's Micheal Clayton. The Coens have taken the intensity, the camera angles, the music cues and the pervasive feeling of doom that has become the hallmark of these films. All these elements help to highlight the extreme nothingness at the center of the film's plot and in turn, this nothingness is great at pointing out the inherent silliness of the norms of CIA-scandal films.
Brad Pitt gives what his character, Chad, would shurely term an, "awesome" performance, as does John Malkovich. The film overall doesn't amount to much, even with its many clever moments. If nothing else, this film has compounded my faith in the Coen Brothers to make funny and subversive films, while also increasing my geneal fear of John Malkovich, tenfold.
- Ahna Olson