Reviews

Fight Club: Definitive Edition

5

You wake up slumped in front of Wikipedia... On average, the adult male body produces about 20 to 30 times the amount of testosterone than that of an adult female.

You are Jack’s overactive adrenal gland. Unless you’re a girl. But we’ll get to that later...

A 2003 study showed that serum testosterone levels reach a peak seven days after abstaining from ejaculation. Compacted rage erupting into life – that’s Fight Club. Director David Fincher blasting us out of the imploding Ed Norton’s brain down the barrel of a gun to shatter and splatter as an opening/closing money-shot (“I know this, because Tyler knows this”). Pure cinematic protein.

Although it seemed perfectly placed, strutting in at the peak of pre-millennial dread, Fight Club will never seem quaint or aged or era-specific. Fincher timelessly channels Chuck Palahniuk’s source novel as primal rage against the corporate soul-sucking machine; jabbing into focus those fuzzy niggles we all feel when coveting looks and lifestyles.

For all the silly claims of fascism or nihilism, the moral clarity is blinding; Fincher’s rugged electro-rock score and glitchy edits twitching with disgust at the howling spiritual void we delicately call ‘materialism’ (fetishing easy, shiny, empty stuff to disguise our puny grasp on human connection).

Or, as Tyler puts it, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” Which seems a good point to talk about whether or not you ‘need’ Fight Club: Definitive Edition. ‘Definitive’ in the sense that it’s pretty much the Region 1 version fused with the two-disc Special Edition. All the commentaries, featurettes, galleries and Easter Eggs are as pithy and pointed as they ever were (the cast chat, with occasional Bonham-Carter and Pitt pop-ups, is extraordinary) but, if you love Fight Club, then you probably already have Fight Club on Special Edition. And if you really love Fight Club, you’ve probably already bagged a Region 1 version. So, at best, that’s an inch or so of shelf-space to spare.

The men reading this are probably already mentally slotting a copy of Firefox in there...

University Of Calgary literary scholar Paul Kennett claims that a want for chaos is a result of an Oedipal complex. The narrator and Tyler both show disdain for their fathers. So if you don’t get Fight Club, here’s what it’s all about...

It’s the bit where mobster Lou clunks down the stairs and pummels Pitt’s pretty face to a smirking pizza of meat and toothbone. It’s that laugh; that shriek of defiance. Tyler Durden as the raging bullock clattering around inside every man (see also De Niro’s Jake La Motta – molars buckled and nose pancaked – bawling, “Ya didn’t get me down!”). Nothing in film has more coldly burrowed down to the twisted, stubborn truth of maleness. But, oof, the irony when Mr Brad Pitt stalks among his shocked, awed, slack-jawed, bloodied brothers – all testosterone-tipsy and punch-drunk on his cracked keynote – and says this: “We’ve been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

 

And, gnn, the irony when Norton eyes a gleaming-sixpack underwear model and asks Brad Pitt if that’s “what a man looks like”. One-time underwear model Pitt’s smirk offers about five answers in one, and if you’re down on Fight Club, you probably read it – and the film – as smug. You probably think Norton’s voiceover is droney and whiney.

But that’s the point. He’s the real voice in all of our heads. Tyler’s smirk is the fantasy. In all of our male heads, anyway. When Tyler proclaims that “self-improvement is masturbation”, he’s saying, burn down rather than bulk up. Strip away, streamline, reinvent. When Norton wonders if he could “wake up as another person”, he does just that: he’s reborn (“Babies don’t sleep this well”). Soon, the colour-matched IKEA cocoon is torched and discharged into the night.

So, you may not be your Prada scarf, your designer frames, your pheromone cologne or your ring-tone: but you really want that iPhone, don’t you?

You are Tyler’s bleeding obviousness.

If you don’t like how it makes you feel, don’t buy into it. Don’t beat yourself up.

Film Details