September 21, 2008

Burn After Reading

burnafterreadingBest case scenario, this movie would be nearly as funny as Raising Arizona. Brad Pitt and John Malkovich's performances comes close to that kind of lunacy. Pitt is a personal trainer/eager puppy, who gets himself all torqued up over a stray CD-ROM found in a locker room- this is his chance to be in his own spy thriller, and he's going to make the most of it. Malkovich is the oil to Pitt's water- a career intelligence analyst, beset on all sides by morons and mediocrity. He's an actual CIA spook, and Pitt's moron has got him over a barrel. Put the two of them together and you've got the only truly funny scenes in this movie.

Oh, I forgot J.K. Simmons- casting him as a CIA director is almost too easy! The Coen brothers are the true heirs to Alfred Hitchcock. They understand human emotions, they know what makes their audiences tick, but they don't feel these same feelings for their characters. In fact, the Coens punish us for growing to like their characters. About halfway through, I thought this movie still had some potential, but then the bloodletting began. There was too much explicit violence, and too many of our favorite characters end up dead. By the last scene, you're meant to feel nothing for these people. As a result, the Coen brothers have made a screwball-style spy-thriller parody which no one will recommend to a friend. The audience walks out feeling abused and insulted, and only a little entertained.