Release Date: October 15, 1999
Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton,
Helena Bonham Carter, Meat
Loaf Aday, & Jared Leto
Runtime: 141 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: David Fincher
Producer: Art Linson, Cean Chaffin &
Ross Grayson Bell
Writer: Jim Uhls BASED UPON THE
NOVEL BY: Chuck Palahniuk
Address Comments To:
At the beginning of the movie, Edward Norton, simply known here as The Narrator, is strapped to a chair in a high rise, with a gun sticking in his mouth. By his side, waits Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). He then tells the audience how he got to be in that position.
Months ago, the Narrator had a cushy job in the corporate world and a cushy apartment in a swank skyscraper. Yet, bored and lonely, he became addicted to addiction self-help groups for company and activity. There he met a big-breasted lug of a man named Bob (Meat Loaf Aday), at a group for men without their manhood, victims of testicular cancer. In another group, the Narrator meets Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), a quirky, deranged suicidal girl who also likes to pose as an addict at such support groups.
One day, the Narrator's apartment blows up, and he has nowhere to go. He calls a stranger he met on a plane, Tyler Durden, and they become roommates in a dilapidated old house next to a factory. The Narrator is intrigued by Tyler's bravado and daring speech. One night, when Tyler bets the Narrator to hit him as hard as he can, this becomes the beginning of Fight Club, an underground group of men that whale the tar out of each other at night, just for a rush.
Marla eventually comes to the house, and, soon, she and Tyler are lovers. Bob quits his self-help group and joins Fight Club. In time, the group attracts a large contingent of followers, including many key city officials. The group evolves slowly into a gang, where members prove their strength by enduring days of abuse and then are let into the house to live. Throughout this time, the Narrator and Tyler fund their group by making and selling soap made out of human fat stolen from lyposuction clinics. The group becomes increasingly more violent, and Tyler assigns homework such as getting into a fight with a stranger, simple vandalism and then higher stakes such as large-scale destruction.
Men become blind followers, while the Narrator becomes paranoid at what Fight Club has become. In fact, Tyler is increasingly crazy, and fight clubs are established all over America. The Narrator tries to stop Tyler when he believes that Tyler has gone insane. What he discovers, however, is a horrifying secret that not only implicates him further in a terrible crime involving the supposed bombing of many federal credit buildings, but also a surprise revelation similar to THE SIXTH SENSE or THE USUAL SUSPECTS.
Needless to say, this is not a simple thriller or crime movie. After Columbine and the rise of vigilantism in America, this movie is completely irresponsible. Though Tyler is eventually shut down, he causes lots and lots of damage, including death. Played with great charisma by Brad Pitt, it will be hard not to believe that some young people will emulate him. In general, he is a prankster, urinating into food and splicing pornographic images into family movies. Even more nefarious, he gives the impression of wisdom by spouting half-truths and lies in the form of wise adages, but he twists them for destructive ends. Tyler says that "the things you own, end up owning you." This may sound good for those trying to get away from American materialism, but to what end? Mother Teresa gave up materialism for a life of service to the poor, not wreckage and carnage.
Some cinephiles may love the cinematography that includes many never seen before images such as a montage that makes the Narrator's apartment look like the pages of a swank catalogue. The script too, full of wry humor, offbeat statements and crazy details, may attract Academy Award attention. Likewise, Pitt and Norton milk their characters with giddy decadence.
Hysteria and panic seem to be pet themes of Fight Club director David Fincher. Combined with a music-video honed sense of visual style, his movies have been lauded for excellence in their modern depictions of evil. SEVEN put him on the map. The morally better, THE GAME, demonstrated that he who loses his life, will find it. FIGHT CLUB twists this notion around, however. The Narrator didn't lose his life, he traded it in for a lie of false thrills and experiences. In Tyler, and not the truth, he trusted, resulting in tragedy. Filled with violence and an abandonment of reason and truth for falsehood, it ranks as one of the most dangerous movies released this year.