moviebuff801: Time Capsule Reviews: Fight Club (1999)

Posted: October 10, 2012 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews, Time Capsule Reviews

Release Date: October 15th, 1999

Running Time: 2 hours and 19 minutes

Written by: Jim Uhls

Directed by: David Fincher

Starring: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Meatloaf

“With a gun barrel between your teeth, you only speak in vowels.”

Very rarely does a film have the power to grab your attention from a few of the opening words alone, but such is the case with Fight Club.  David Fincher’s 1999 film is engrossing, exhilarating, extreme and entertaining all at once.  This is the kind of movie that holds your attention because it always feels like the film itself is alive, just waiting to burst out of the screen and take hold of you.  Fight Clubboasts top-notch performances, detailed direction, and uncompromising messages about the nature of our society.

Edward Norton stars as a nameless office drone, but for all intents and purposes, he’s known simply as The Narrator.  Norton’s character has fallen into a repetitive loop of unstoppable indifference.  He goes about his daily routine with all the enthusiasm of a programmed robot, never getting a wink of sleep and searching for a solution to his problem.  One day, that arrives in the form of the free-spirited and enigmatic Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt).  Tyler is a soap salesman who makes his own product and lives in the kind of rundown house that would make rats turn up their noses in disgust.  Once Norton gets to know Tyler better and becomes accustomed to his curious philosophical views, some of Tyler’s personality begins to rub off on Norton.

Together, the two of them start Fight Club.  What is Fight Club?  Well, the first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.  And the second rule of Fight Club is you DO NOT talk about Fight Club.  But as the film states, it’s okay to break the rules every once in a while.  What starts out as an underground organization where men can let their frustration loose eventually transforms into an uncontrollable mob of anarchy as the members of Fight Club become involved in more extreme events, such as destroying public property and causing absolute chaos in the streets.  But as Norton frantically attempts to stop all this madness, he soon comes to realize just how ingenious Tyler Durden really is.

Fight Club is based on a 1996 novel by author Chuck Palahniuk, a book which I’ve read since first seeing the film and really liked.  By comparison, the screenplay by Jim Uhls keeps the central themes and ideas of Palahniuk’s source material intact, but also expands upon them in fresh and interesting ways.  However, the movie does add an extra layer to the story.  The idea that we live in a society where we, as people, keep our emotions bottled up inside until they slowly reach the boiling point.  The story is all about rebelling against what society deems “appropriate” in ways where the line between rational and extreme is blurred so much so that the line practically becomes nonexistent.  In a way, the film is all about embracing your true nature.

Much like the character in the book, Tyler serves as the catalyst to make the members of Fight Club let their violent emotions go with all the force of a volcano eruption.  Brad Pitt captures Tyler’s easygoing yet commanding attitude perfectly, as he easily convinces us of his narcissistic nature.  Tyler Durden can be charming one moment, then wild and unpredictable the next.  Pitt is the book character incarnate; there can’t be any other actor who could’ve played the role as good as he does.  Edward Norton is also very strong as The Narrator.  He seems to be our very own mirror images, in that whenever confronted with one of Tyler’s extreme exercises, Norton is appropriately amazed and scared at the same time.  Having one of the two main characters counterbalance the extremeness of the picture with utter fear helps us as the audience get drawn into the film.

Further serving as a hook is David Fincher’s visceral, hard-hitting direction.  Fincher directs Fight Club as if the movie is an actual fistfight.  Everything is aggressive, but in a good way.  I almost want to label this as the “Ultimate Guy Movie,” because it deals with a lot of interesting themes while masking them behind a truckload of testosterone.  It’s smart and cool at the same time, and through elements such as the camerawork, the pace, the look, hell – the tone – Fincher makes this readily apparent.  If someone were to ask me why David Fincher is one of my favorite directors, Fight Club is one of the first movies of his I would direct them to.  You’d think a movie that’s essentially about a bunch of guys running around and causing chaos wouldn’t be very expertly crafted, well, not on David Fincher’s watch.

Fight Club is one of my Ten Favorite Films.  It’s films like Fight Club that remind us how great movies can be.  From its vividly drawn characters to its jarring observations on the psyche of men’s minds, the film is a constantly compelling piece of pop entertainment.  It boasts career highlight performances from Brad Pitt and Edward Norton as well as first-rate direction from David Fincher, whose in-your-face approach really suits the film well.  Fight Club is the kind of movie that plants itself firmly in your mind and like a sucker punch to the face, leaves an impression on you.


  1. ckckred says:

    Fight Club’s my second favorite movie by Fincher after The Social Network. It really does leave an impression on you and is one of the best films of the past two decades. Nice review.

  2. moviebuff801 says:

    Thanks. :) Fight Club is my personal favorite Fincher film, followed by Seven. But, yeah, The Social Network is great as well.

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