Fight Club - rated - KNOCKED OUT, STONE COLD

Raging Bullshit

This film managed to be both ludicrous and repellent at the same time. It's the closest I've ever come to walking out on a film. - and it wasn't because of the violence.

After a brilliant start (the director, David Fincher - Alien 3, Se7en, does great titles) and a promising setup, the film goes downhill rapidly. The cast is a good one. Brad Pitt is in fine, Twelve Monkeys form, and he's dresssed in some of the strangest outfits you'll ever see. Edward Norton is strangely unpumped - though now I realise why. Helena Bonham Carter is uncorsetted in more than one sense of the word. All three do good work (although I found Norton's "dead-man" type narration pretty uninspring). All three are wasted in this throughly stupid film.

Undergraduate is one word for it. Lightweight is another. The material is just not sensible. Why is "society" to blame for the malaise of a generation which is shocked to find that consumerism is not a fulfilling phlosophy? Why would a young man who is bored by his job (which involves him visiting and assessing the sites of gruesome car accidents for a "major automobile company") take solace in equally gruesome bareknuckle fights? Actually, I thought his job was anything but boring - hair-raising is more like it.

Much has been made about the violence of these bareknuckle fights. Personally, I found them cartoonish. People have their faces pounded by fists, but neither noses nor fingers break. Heads are smashed into concrete slabs and only a couple of teeth are lost. Necks are cracked against metal and no-one seemed to become a paraplegic. No one even seems to go to hospital. Only one person receives serious injury, and his injuries are made much of - because he was good-looking, and has been turned into a kind of monster.

Speaking of paraplegic: once the film took us into the self-help groups that the narrator (Norton) visits to make himself feel better, I began to turn against the film. These people are trivialised - made to look like bleeding-hearted softies, sadly pathetic and worthy of ridicule. How fitting, though, that the first group was men suffering testicular cancer. After all, the most important thing to the members of the Fight Club is their balls.

However disgraceful this treatment of the sick is, the film is at least exploring the feelings of the Narrator at that point. Once the film moves away from these scenes and towards the Fight Clubs and their members, it slides off into the realms of the ludicrous. Are the writers (screenplay by Jim Uhls from the debut novel of Chuck Palahniuk) suggesting that mindless violence is somehow better than mindless consumerism? The dialogue that spouts from Norton and Pitt at this point is just annoying.

I stayed to the end. Things blow up. Oh, and there's a twist (but isn't that compulsory these days?). It didn't help the movie. If anything, it made things stupider. The whole thing is an excruciating waste of time.