- rated - KNOCKED OUT, STONE COLD
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
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.