David Fincher's Fight Club is a tremendous technical accomplishment, a masterpiece of set design, editing, scoring, and precise direction. Every shot is handled with an attention to detail that makes Fight Club one of the most visually stunning films of the decade. It's also a condescending, viciously hypocritical movie that can't decide whether it has more contempt for its audience or its characters. Everything about it conveys a smug, adolescent nihilism that's as emotionally powerful as it is shallow, and while it may be interpreted as an anti-fascist/anti-cult parable, it also draws most of its power from the same conformist, hyper-masculine ideology. The impressive Edward Norton stars as a Kafka-esque drone whose tedious existence receives a major overhaul after he meets a charismatic drifter (Brad Pitt, effortlessly coasting on his iconic status) who gets him to embrace the caveman within. A hipster graphic novel come to life—and powered by a flashy, tremendously effective Dust Brothers score—Fight Club does itself a disservice by laughing so hard at its own naughtiness and exaggerated sense of transgression that it barely gives its audience time to breathe, let alone figure things out for itself. Like a bile-filled adolescent, Fight Club concerns itself primarily with daydreaming of being an all-powerful, all-destructive übermensch, only to recognize that maybe individual human life really does have worth after all. Unfortunately, by the time it comes to this realization, it's too late; Fight Club never really had any humanity to speak of, making its fourth-quarter lapse into conventional morality about as convincing as a terminally ill pedophile's last-minute decision to repent.
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