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Fight Club (1999)

November 22, 2009

9/10 Lead Salads

Not quite David Fincher’s best movie, but still, it’s freakin’ Fight Club. This here movie kicks a fine amount of ass.

Fight Club is about a humdrum guy whose humdrum life gets turned upside down after being seated next to one Tyler Durden on an otherwise humdrum flight for his humdrum job. Humdrum. Anyway, after his apartment accidentally blows up, he moves in with Tyler, they become quick pals, and then they form Fight Club after a night of heavy drinking – a nice little place for them and their fans to beat the living shit out of each other. So Fight Club gets really popular, it gives new meaning to this guy’s life, it also eventually turns into an even wackier little shindig called Project Mayhem, and then shit really gets crazy.

Point is, there aren’t too many movies out there like Fight Club.

I know I’m a bit behind the ball on this one what with last week being the tenth anniversary of this family favorite, but hey, glad to finally have an excuse to review this.

So, why does this movie kicks so much ass? Let’s start with director David Fincher.

Like I said, this isn’t his best movie – a well-earned title still held by Se7en – but it’s a close runner-up. The thing I like most about this guy is that not only is a really good storyteller and continually churns out one original, gritty movie after another, but, man, does he know how to use lighting to his advantage. This is one of those things you have to see for yourself to really get, and this isn’t really a characteristic that I’m prone to point out in movies, but the entire movie looks like it was filmed in a damp basement, and that is awesome. There’s stark contrasts between light and dark all around, it’s got this “Finchian” (Copyrighted 2009, Cut The Crap Industries) blend of sleek and dirty from the shiny glint of city buildings to the bloodied face of a maimed everyman, and everything about the way this sharp, grimy movie looks totally complements the dark story it’s telling.

Look, when you see a David Fincher movie, you know it’s a David Fincher movie. Not to belabor the point, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the dude is one of the best working directors out there today and he sure knows how to make a movie look good.

And hey, guess what, there’s a solid little cast here, too! Well I’ll be!

I’ve always been a big fan of Edward Norton, and while this isn’t the best thing he’s ever done either, he still plays a really good protagonist as our humdrum anti-hero, Cornelius. He probably would have been more memorable if it weren’t for Brad Pitt and his eight-pack abs as Tyler Durden. I’m slowly coming over to the mindset that Brad’s actually a good actor after his turn Inglourious Basterds recently, and even though there’s a whole lot of eye candy going on with him in this movie, the fact of the matter is that Tyler Durden is one hell of a character. Most of the credit is probably due to the script in this case, but still, hard to knock Brad this time around.

Helena Bonham Carter is also in it as Ed Norton’s main squeeze, Marla, and boy howdy is she creepy as hell. 

And Meat Loaf is in it, too, and he’s good, and not just because his name’s freakin’ Meat Loaf.

It’s not often that adaptations end up being better than the source material, but after trucking through Chuck Palahniuk’s novel a couple years ago, I’m still sold on Fincher’s take. Still not really sure if there’s a moral to the madness, but whatever, Fight Club is one wild ride that’ll have you hooked right from the opening shot. Lots of memorable scenes, has one awesome twist going for it, a real biting sense of humor that just adds to an already terribly well-written script, and even though it might be a little too gnarly for some, it’s pretty darn rewarding for all you postmodern fanboys out there.

Great script, great director, people making soap and punching out Jared Leto. Sounds like a winner, alright.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2009 10:48 pm

    It’s Fight Club-a-palooza around the interwebs it would seem. I agree that the movie is preferable to the source, as it omits some of Palahniuk’s “shocking for the sake of being shocking” passages and refines the book’s satire (of which there is a truckload and even more in the film). Zodiac’s my pick for Fincher’s best, but I really came around on this film after getting just how brilliant and merciless its comedy really was.

  2. madhatter21 permalink
    November 23, 2009 1:39 am

    One of my all-time favorite movies based on one of my all-time favorite books. I for one believe that what makes this one is Finch, Chuck, and screenwriter Jim Uhls all coming together to turn this into something as scattered as the original novel, yet as focused as what the film would ultimately become.

    Chuck writes some brilliant material, but it isn’t the easiest to adapt (see: CHOKE). Kudos to all involved for honing the material so well.

    I also couldn’t agree with you more on how good Pitt is here. The guy embodies the rock star Tyler is supposed to be so perfectly, complete with his dark sense of humour. It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.

    Here’s to ten years of not talking about fight club!

  3. November 23, 2009 9:50 am

    sweet review as usual, nice Meat Loaf sentence – the man’s a legend.
    am with Jake Cole – Zodiac is da bomb

    • November 23, 2009 9:52 am

      Agreed, Zodiac is the bomb. Too bad it totally came and went when it was in theaters. Need to give that a re-watch, but I was a big fan of it when it came out. One of these days…

  4. Branden permalink
    November 23, 2009 2:20 pm

    This is probably one of the top 5 guy movies of all time with Shawshank Redemption, Field of Dreams, Godfather and Raging Bull.

  5. Rob permalink
    November 23, 2009 4:22 pm

    My all time favorite movie. I force myself to watch it once a year for reindoctrination (though it’s never a chore), and I introduced my girlfriend to it on the weekend of its 10th anniversary. She still loves me, but she thinks I’m a little sick…

  6. November 24, 2009 7:20 am

    1. Fight Club is by far the best Fincher movie. Don’t get me wrong, Se7en i shigh – possibly the same rating, but if they sat next to each other, Fight Club would win it. So much more visceral and dripping with the masculine sweat. All the grimy and grittyness of Se7en is nothing in cmparison to the vile world Norton lives in. The surreal sequences (the shopping bit, the movement through the brain, etc) – nothing like that in Se7en. You could maybe argue the story in Se7en is more ‘inspired’, but visually Fight Club takes the top.

    2. Interesting description of ‘Finchian’ style – as (you can see clear as day in Panic Room) Fincher does look to Hitchcockian styles himself a fair few times. What would be your ten ‘Finchian’ common themes and threads?

    3. For the record Benjamin Button lost Fincher ALOT of credability for me. I loved everything of his until that bomb of a movie. And to think it had the whole Brad Pitt/Fincher combo that worked so perfectly in Fight Club and Se7en but failed so majestically … a real shame.

    • November 24, 2009 11:09 am

      1. Looks like a gotta review Se7en.
      2. Ten “Finchian” themes? Man, tough question. Need some time to think about that one, first thing that comes to mind is that the human mind is a fucked up place. The other nine will come to me.
      3. I like Benjamin Button. Not Fincher’s best movie by a long shot, but still, I dug it. Agree to disagree, Simon.


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