Burn After Reading

February 9, 2009

burn-after-reading-021The movie starts with Osborne Cox (John Malkovich), a CIA analyst, quitting his job at the agency after being demoted because of a drinking problem. He then decides to write a memoir about his life in the CIA. His wife, pediatrician Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton), wants to divorce Osborne and, at the counsel of her divorce lawyer, she copies many of his personal and financial files off his computer and onto a compact disc. The lawyer’s receptionist accidentally leaves the disc at Hardbodies, a health club. After her husband is served with divorce papers, Katie changes the locks to keep him out of their house.

An employee of the gym, Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt), obtains the disc from the gym’s custodian. Seeing the content of the memoir, he assumes that it is highly classified information and the financial data is some sort of cipher. Initially Chad only wants to give the disk back to Osbourne hoping for a reward. But after a confusing phone conversation due to lack of communication between the two and a high temper on Osbourne’s part, Chad and Linda, who wants the money to pay for cosmetic surgery, decide to blackmail him. Chad meets Osborne, who refuses to pay and punches Chad in the nose. Then Linda decides to take the information to the Russian embassy. At the embassy, she hands the disk over to the Russians, promising that she will give more information afterwards. Because Linda and Chad don’t have any more information, they decide to break into Cox’s house.

Katie has been having an affair with Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), a womanizing Treasury agent. By chance he has recently met Linda online and begun an affair with her as well. Chad stakes out the Coxes’ house and breaks in when he sees Harry and Katie leave. Harry, however, comes back, finds Chad, and accidentally shoots him dead. Linda had told Chad to carry no ID and cut the labels out of his clothes; when Harry sees this, he thinks Chad was a spy and disposes of the body.


At first I thought, “George Clooney and Brad Pitt. I liked Ocean’s, so this movie must be great.” I was proven wrong at every degree possible. The movie started fine, though kinda boring, but when Chad is shot dead by Harry, I kinda hate this movie. Not because Brad Pitt got to act the idiotic Chad who chews gum all the time, and not because Brad Pitt’s character got shot dead either and I got to see his blood spattering from the back of this head and all (though this is a teeny tiny part). Because the longer it went, the less sense it made. The longer it went, the more I regret watching it in the first place.


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