Burn After Reading

Rated 4.0

A disgraced CIA agent (John Malkovich) decides to write his memoirs and two dim-witted trainers at Hardbodies gym (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) find a disc containing his first draft. They decide to blackmail the former agent, and things spiral out of control. George Clooney plays a U.S. Marshall who finds himself mixed up in the mess—a mess that is entirely fun to watch thanks to the always steady direction of Joel and Ethan Coen. Malkovich is especially good, in full rage mode as a man who the system no longer requires. Pitt gets a chance to go full-blown idiot in a movie, and he takes full advantage. McDormand overdoes it at times, but Clooney delivers yet another good performance in a Coen movie. It’s another case of the Coens elevating something that might’ve been routine into something grandiose and technically impressive.