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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Epionage > Comedy > Burn After Reading (2008/Universal Blu-ray)

Burn After Reading (2008/Universal Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C+     Film: B-

 

 

The Spy genre is slowly working itself into the narrowest corner since the end of The Cold War, so I was intrigued when I heard The Coen Brothers were going to take it on with Burn After Reading (2008) featuring an exceptional cast and focuses on the bureaucratic side of the genre.  Robert DeNiro did just that with the more serious The Good Shepherd (reviewed elsewhere on this site) but too few of the Espionage films (including many blockbusters) have dealt with this side of things.

 

John Malkovich is an adviser to the CIA who suddenly finds himself laid off for what seems to be political reasons.  He is not having the best times of it at home with his wife (Tilda Swinton) who is having an affair and they are on their way to divorce.  In addition, she buns a disc of Top Secret information from his computer and accidentally loses it the gym.  It is then found by two goofy co-workers (Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt) who want to make money on it!

 

They meet with its original owner (Malkovich) with poor results, so they decide to try and find a way to make money on it, especially since she is furious that her HMO rejected her four elective surgeries that would make her look younger and feel better about herself.  George Clooney, Richard Jennings and J.K. Simmons also star in this comedy that is more comedy than thriller and though it can be funny and interesting, it never is fully realized, ends before it gets a chance to take off and though good, could have been richer.  Still, it is ambitious and has enough good moments to see it at least once, but it should have been longer.

 

 

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is a little grainier than expected, but the look is consistent and is the first time The Coens have worked with Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki, A.S.C., A.M.C., whose recent work in Children Of Men and The New World has been among his strongest.  The comic/expressionistic style of The Coen comedy approach is still here, but it is more toned down than in previous films.  It is an interesting change of pace.  The DTS HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 is well recorded, dialogue-based and has another fine score by Carter Burwell (whose been scoring Coen films since Blood Simple), so the soundfield is not expansive, but still pretty good.

 

Extras include three behind the scenes pieces on the film (Finding The Burn, DC Insiders Run Amuck and Welcome Back, George) and BD Live interactivity.  I would have liked more here, but all in all, this is not a bad release.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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