Trying to explain or review Fight Club is a little like trying to explain the physical properties of a black hole. It’s extremely complex, it requires way more than 500 words to appreciate the enormity of, there are innumerable components of thought behind it and it may never be fully understood. Ever.
Continuing this black hole analogy, Fight Club is all about a breakdown of logic, and as regular science doesn’t apply to black holes, so it seems regular scripting doesn’t apply to Fight Club. That’s not to say irregularity hasn’t served Fight Club well. It’s pretty rare that a movie with overt existentialism at its roots is so effective in its delivery. How many movies can get away with leaving it open to debate as to whether one of the main characters ever existed or indeed was a mental fabrication of a deluded schizophrenic?
That however is Fight Club all over and I have to say, it’s extremely effective. I like how the movie starts relatively normally (relative being the optimum word throughout this movie!) with a progression towards the strange and abnormal through the character Jack’s (Edward Norton) decision to attend therapy classes for illnesses or problems he does not have to help cure his insomnia. The film then becomes progressively more surreal with Jack’s introduction to Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and the pair’s decision to set-up private ‘Fight-Clubs’ to vent their inner frustration at the boredom that comes with modernity for them.
This in itself asks a pretty interesting question about what makes people tick. The idea that self-destruction is more of an effective form of motivation than self-improvement is a pretty interesting concept. The film does actually make you wonder how far you could push this in the real world. The scene where Jack beats himself up in his boss’ office and frames his manager almost has shades of the more extreme, fairly recent incidents where people have faked their own deaths to claim insurance benefit. A form of self-destruction that even Tyler Durden would have approved of.
There are some aspects of Fight Club that perhaps push the boundaries a little too far. The destruction of the ten or so capitalist buildings at the end of the movie is seemingly portrayed as the end of the modern world. In reality losing one office block would be a minor inconvenience to a global corporate bank rather than a business-ending scenario. Whilst the film is designed to make us question how we think and accept our place in the modern world, I think Fight Club slightly overlooks the fact that people are fundamentally selfish and on the lookout for themselves. In this instance it’s slightly hard to place how Tyler Durden’s criminal organisation would come to fruition and indeed how slick it ended up being in the hands of essentially the world’s most disorganised man.
These are however minor criticisms of a movie that was bold and brash in every sense and seems to raise a new question about normality with every passing second of the film. Like a black hole, this movie absorbs you whether you like it or not. It will throw you out the other side with big questions and definitely will make you rethink how and what a movie should be.