Dark R-Rated Crime Comedy On Netflix Has The Best Ensemble Cast Ever

By TeeJay Small | Updated

If you’re a fan of off-beat films in the comedy or crime niche, you’re no doubt familiar with the brilliant filmmaking duo of Joel and Ethan Coen. The brothers have collaborated on such incredible works as Fargo, No Country For Old Men, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and many others. One of their best films, 2008’s Burn After Reading, touts an unstoppable ensemble of A-list performers and is currently available to stream on Netflix.

One Of The Coen Brother’s Best

As stated, Burn After Reading was written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and originally began as the duo’s take on popular spy movies such as the Jason Bourne franchise. In true Coen brothers fashion however, the final product turned out to be a lot more of an absurdist comedy of errors than a spy film, and centers on a group of wacky neurotic characters who foolishly bumble their way into an international conflict.

As a result, this film has been unofficially dubbed as the third entry into the so-called “trilogy of idiots” series, following the Coen’s previous movies O Brother Where Art Thou and Intolerable Cruelty.

Brad Pitt Is Having The Time Of His Life

Burn After Reading stars a laundry list of cinematic heavy hitters, including Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey DeMunn, Richard Jenkins, frequent Coen brothers collaborator Frances McDormand, and John Malkovich.

Brad Pitt is a standout in the film, portraying a perpetually confused personal trainer named Chad, which allows Pitt to have more fun in the film than he’s ever had in his career. Malkovich also brings his A-game, with the vein-popping frustration of a man constantly surrounded by morons who just can’t take it anymore.

A Failed Marriage Kickstarts The Plot

The narrative of Burn After Reading centers on Malkovich’s Osbourne Cox, who quits his job as a CIA analyst after he is confronted on the job regarding his ongoing drinking problem. When he comes home to inform his stuck-up wife that he has left his job and intends to write a memoir, she is incredibly cold and insulting.

Unbeknownst to Cox, his wife, who is carrying out an affair with a married U.S. Marshal, secretly files for a divorce with the intention of blindsiding him and clearing out their joint bank account.

Dim-Witted Gym Rats

The film really kicks into gear after Mrs. Cox’s lawyer accidentally misplaces a disc containing some of the former analyst’s computer records. After the disc resurfaces at a local gym, a pair of dim-witted personal trainers mistakenly believe that they’ve stumbled onto some high-clearance government secrets.

As Burn After Reading progresses, the trainers attempt to blackmail Cox for his records, while numerous plot lines weave and intersect into a bubbling cauldron of misunderstandings and shockingly fatal encounters.

Streaming On Netflix


I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but suffice is to say, Burn After Reading is one of the funniest dark thrillers on the entire Netflix platform. If you’re a fan of the Coen brothers and you haven’t seen the film yet, you owe it to yourself to pull it up as soon as possible. Whether you’ve never caught the film before or are just long overdue for a rewatch, Burn After Reading is streaming on Netflix today.