Movie Review: Fight Club (1999)

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Reviewed by: Freekz80 (Blake Mickatavage)

“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You DO NOT talk about Fight Club.” Well, I am unfortunately about to break the first two rules of this initially ill-received film turned internet cult phenomena. But for a good cause! Despite Brad Pitt’s appearance, Fight Club wasn’t the most popular of films at the time of its release in 1999, receiving only $100 million at the box office. Many critiqued Fight Club for its supposed lack of target audience and encouragement of recklessness, and at one point it was almost marketed as an art film. However, over the years it became a huge hit and a frequently referenced movie on the internet, spawning a cult following similar to that of A Clockwork Orange 30 years earlier.

Edward Norton and Brad Pitt join forces in this dark, gritty film to expose the flaws of civilized society with elements of anarcho-primitivism, neo-luddism, and nihilism. The Narrator (Ed Norton), an insomniac living the typical mundane life of the American young professional, meets the free spirited soap maker/distributor Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who enlightens him to the meaninglessness of everything modern society places value in. At first, the two personalities seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, but it doesn’t take long for the Narrator to warm up to Durden’s mentality. The two form an underground fight club which becomes very popular surprisingly quickly. It doesn’t take long for the club to evolve into something much more sinister.

What works: 

The first thing I’d like to mention about what works with Fight Club is the character and plot development. The lead characters are constantly evolving throughout the film, and almost every turn the plot takes is unexpected. There is never a dull moment, relationships and personalities are being built upon all the way through. Also, the themes expressed in the film, alongside its dark atmosphere, appeal very well with the male psyche. To add to this, the fight scenes are just incredible and a few completely unorthodox. The movie is packed with not only action, but a very intriguing plotline that is nigh impossible to not become immersed in. To top it all off, the icing on the cake is the soundtrack. Featuring artists such as The Pixies, the great variety of music further increases the intensity and even sentimentality of several parts of the film. Oh, and a Meat Loaf cameo! What’s better than that!?

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We should do this again sometime.

What doesn’t work:

Fight Club is criticized quite heavily for its violent and anti-establishment concepts. Initially, it was a concern that the younger audience of the film would take its themes to heart. Not that they are “bad” per se, as the film does portray some valuable insight, but it also does encourage violence as a road to enlightenment. This could be a concern for some. Also, and this may be a bold statement, but I believe the film may not appeal as well to women. The film does sexualize women in a way that may not be attractive to all audiences, as the primary female character, Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) explicitly displays. In combination, the aggressive and rebel motifs that are fundamental to the film would seem to appeal more commonly to the younger male audience.

Final Score:

Legendary

I feel this is an extremely powerful film that combines a very intriguing story with jaw clenching action and timeless themes, expressed by actors that could not have suited their roles more perfectly. Those into gritty actions films will appreciate the destructive atmosphere, and those searching for immersive, twisted plotlines will appreciate the story. Overall, this film deserves a solid 9 Brad Pitts out of 10.

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