Burn after Reading fire extinguished
“What did we learn, Palmer?” barks the supervising government intelligence officer.
“I have no idea sir,” replies the lower ranking officer.
This is a small taste of the conclusion of Joel and Ethan Coen’s newest film, Burn After Reading.
It finishes with two somewhat educated and respected men who are left sitting in bewilderment, urging one another not to repeat whatever it is they just did.
The Coen brothers, who are famous for displaying the dark side of humor through their writing and directing style in such films as O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Big Lebowski (1998) and Fargo (1996), continue that pattern in the new release.
Having just come off the success of the award winning movie, No Country for Old Men (2007), the Coen brothers decided to combine success in their action/thriller film with their old standard, comedy.
The result of this merger left movie goers less than satisfied and many film critics scratching their heads.
It features a star studded cast, with leading names like George Clooney, Brad Pitt and John Malkovich.
It opens with a scene from the CIA headquarters in Washington, D.C. In the scene, seasoned CIA analyst Osborne Cox (Malkovich) is terminated from his job at the agency.
His superiors list his alcohol abuse as the reason for his firing and stated it as a security risk.
Cox’s reaction to the news sets the tone for the rest of the film.
He begins with a string of obscenities and insults, all the while denying any responsibility for his current situation in a self-absorbed fit of rage.
Each character is found to be an ignorant, selfish individual looking out only for himself. Each new one has his own role to play in this unfortunate series of events.
Murder, infidelity, theft, fraud and deception all run rampant throughout the movie.
Not one character in the film is motivated beyond anything but pure, selfish ambition.
The film received an R rating for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence.
Though this rating will be enough to ward off many students wishing to watch the movie, for those still planning on seeing the film — beware.
While the rating system is often slightly off target, this one is right on. Burn After Reading boasts more than 60 obscenities as well as 30-plus instances of profanity in its 96- minute run time.
Also, characters frequently change sex partners as if it were a handshake to be given to anyone they meet.
Some will find the film enjoyable and ironic in a dark sort of way and will get pleasure in watching the pure, uninhibited stupidity of mankind as they are pushed to the edge of insanity.
However, others will dislike the hopelessness and the frivolity of the film’s situations and wish they could regain their lost hour and a half.