Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Fight Club

MPAA Rating: R for disturbing and graphic depiction of violent anti-social behavior, sexuality and language.

Reviewed by: Jason Murphy

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Thriller / Satire
2 hr. 19 min.
Year of Release:
Relevant Issues
Cover Image from Fight Club

Nihilism (Wikipedia)


Goodness of God



How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

What does God say? Answer

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

Fornication in the Bible

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Christian answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more. Valuable resources for Christian couples, singles and pastors.

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, Jared Leto, Zach Grenier, Eion Bailey, Ezra Buzzington | Director: David Fincher | Writing credits: Chuck Palahniuk (novel), Jim Uhls

“We are the middle children of history. We have no unifying cause. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives.”
—Tyler Durden, waiter, underground cult leader, anarchist extrordinaire

“Fight Club” is probably the definitive film of generation X, Y (or whatever generations people under the age of 35 belong to). It is shocking, disturbing, possibly dangerous. But I haven’t seen any film recently (even “American Beauty”) that explores the ills and shortcomings of our society so intelligently and so well.

Edward (I’d like to thank the Academy…) Norton gives a phenomenal performance as the nameless narrator of the film. He’s a wage slave for a major automobile company, disgusted with his job (he calculates the cost of auto recalls; if the cost of recalls is more than the probable out of court settlement, the company keeps the dangerous cars on the road). Feeling alienated from everyone, he frequents cancer support groups for fellowship (when people think you’re dying, they give you their complete attention). However, his life takes a turn for the weird when he meets two people: Marla Singer, another support group “tourist”, who threatens to expose him, and Tyler Durden (Pitt), an anarchic genius. Tyler taps into the frustration of young disenfranchised males, starting up underground fight clubs.

At fight club, men pair off and beat each other in a cathartic release of their frustrations. Soon, Tyler is starting up fight clubs all over the country, building up a cult-like army with which he can overthrow the consumer society he so vehemently decries.

Technically, this movie is as close to flawless as they come. The three lead actors (Norton, Pitt, Carter) all give top-notch performances. Enough said.

What is much more interesting (and disturbing) about this movie are the ideas driving it. “Fight Club” is full of horrifying violence, but I do not believe that it is gratuitous or mindless. Nor does “Fight Club” glorify the violence it portrays. With tragedies like Columbine occurring semi-regularly in our society now, “Fight Club” could not be more timely. It strives to show where the violence comes from, what makes it attractive to the individuals responsible for it. Tyler, in one of his many philosophy-laced monologues, says “we’re all raised by television to believe that one day, we’re all going to be millionaires, movie gods and rock stars… but we won’t. And we’re figuring that out now.” In the face of this society, many people feel impotent, unable to change their lives. They feel owed. And, like it or not, violence is one way to exert at least a small amount of control over the people around them, if only for a brief time.

There are many lines and ideas in “Fight Club” that hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, many other parts of the movie are exceedingly dark and offensive. There is sex and nudity both implied (through sound) and shown onscreen (including a frame of a picture, seen twice, of an erect penis). A lot of profanity. And the other part of Tyler’s worldview, though not fully espoused by the movie as a whole, is exceedingly nihilistic. Not that the nihilism is particularly surprising; it seems to be rampant everywhere in today’s society in many different forms. One exchange: “Your father was your model for God. And if your father bails out, what does that tell you about God? Our fathers were our models for God. My dad bailed on me; just walked away from the family when I was six.” Unfortunately, God is the last place these people think of looking.

“Fight Club” is also a cautionary tale. It highlights the dangers of blindly following a figure (Tyler, here) no matter how charismatic. Comparisons to the rise of fascism are totally justified. Here is also the real danger of the film. Those going to films as pure entertainment will probably not feel the need to analyze the themes running through “Fight Club”, and hence could walk out buying Tyler Durden’s nihilism hook, line and sinker; many of his arguments are pretty persuasive.

I’m guessing that this movie really won’t resonate with people above the age of 40, but many between the ages of 20 and 30 will really be able to identify with a lot of the feelings here. And I think it’s a movie most people should steer clear of. Especially if you are not willing to really analyze and think about the film when the lights come up. “Fight Club” is definitely a film that demands it.

Viewer Comments
from the Editor of “Fight Club”… As the editor of the movie “Fight Club” I have read many reviews of the film. I feel that much of the press has misunderstood or misrepresented the movie, usually using the review to soapbox their own self-righteousness. I followed a link to your review with some trepidation, assuming it would be a hack job, blaming the film for all of society’s ills. I was wrong. It was a very insightful, reasonable, respectful piece. I truly respect the writer’s ability to accept it for what it is, to warn viewers of things that they may want to avoid, and to still give it credit for its thought provoking content. I must say that the vast majority of film reviewers could learn something from this example. Even the letters written in by readers were open-minded and thoughtful…

I know that the film is controversial, and for me personally it had to pass my own moral barometer to give a year and a half of my life to editing it. I feel that there is a place for disturbing material thoughtfully presented. People can choose not to see it, but it should be allowed (despite what the Hollywood reporter thinks!).

I feel that real faith can withstand challenges, and in fact is made stronger by real, challenging examination. I’m very proud of this film, both in terms of content and craft, and I’m disappointed that so many people were discouraged from seeing it by those with their own agendas. I’ve seen it be a great starting point for many conversations, conversations this country desperately needs to have more of, in my opinion…
—Jim Haygood, Editor of “Fight Club”
“A sophisticated message”… Many thanks to Mr. Murphy for the thoughtful review of “Fight Club.” I am a Presbyterian pastor and my brother Jim is the editor of Fight Club. Being 46 years old, female, Christian, I didn’t think the movie was going to have much to say to me, but I trusted Jim’s choice that it was a movie worth working on. I too was very surprised and pleased to find it had a sophisticated message, not to mention great production values. Thanks for a review that wasn’t just a kneejerk response to the title and the violence. I hope others like you will have the courage to think about the implications of this film, and let them inform you as you work for the Kingdom.
—Rev. Karen Haygood Stokes
“viewer beware”… Even if I were not a Christian I would find this movie repulsive. I attended this viewing of “Fight Club” with a friend who is not a Christian and even he replied “And we wonder what is wrong with America?” I find it so alarming that people make up this stuff and call it entertainment! I’m not a prude and I realize that there is a “real” world out there and that we as Ambassadors for Christ have to adapt to certain things but is something like this necessary? I’m awaiting newspaper headlines talking of individual “Fight Clubs” that are developing in society. Kinda makes ya want to keep your kids under lock and key. The best thing that I could say is “VIEWER BEWARE.” My Ratings: [1/2]
—Wendy, age 31
“redemptive and valuable”… If you watch this movie all the way to the end, you have to feel that Edward Norton has rejected the nihilism of Brad Pitt, embraced the responsibilities of being a loving man, and might be about to give Jesus a chance. I found it entirely redemptive and valuable. It’s definitely violent, and the message is muddled, but that’s because the characters are deranged until the very end of the movie. Give it a chance to redeem itself in the end and feel yourself growing up with the Narrator.
—Jay Howard, age 33
challenging and disturbing… I walked away from this movie both, challenged and greatly disturbed. The utter feeling of hopelessness that these characters felt and the need to follow a charismatic leader was a frustrating feeling for me. Our Savior stands before us wanting to fill our every need and to take away every feeling of hopelessness that fills the lives of today’s generation. The challenge that I felt was one of a desperate need to spread HIS love to everyone. The film making qualities were awesome and it was probably one of the best made movies that I have ever seen. Norton and Pitt gave phenomenal performances, as well! My Ratings: [2/5]
—Mark Hollander, age 37
“Wam bam power punch’n truth”… If it were not for the command of Christ in my heart of Philippians 4:8 that packs a powerful punch on my conscious, I would be recommending this one to all who love the Lord our God with their mind, heart and soul. Why? Simply for awareness.

As 2000 bound missionaries fighting spiritually in our American backyard for souls, “Fight Club” helps us identify with our field! We are facing a generation only yearning for Christians to become more contextualized in their approach to dealing with life. I agree with Murphy. We who “see” and “hear” can harvest positive motivation from the movie if we are quick to seek God’s discernment and seek prayerfully to flush out the negative aspects. (By the way, the Spirit caused me to close my eyes right before and on through the sex scenes! I know, it is not a healthy excuse…) Yet, I personally came away with a desire to fully consider the implications of what a serious fight goes on, not only up in the heavenly realms—Eph. 6 style, but internally as every soul we witness to contemplates the Way to eternal life. How did I get that motive?

Did you recognize the spiritual relationship between the protagonist and Tyler. It seems strange no one has mentioned so far—Tyler is spirit if you reflect far enough. Was it not clear Tyler is either an alter ego, alter personality or say a demonic force? Although I may be accused of isogesis (reading into the movie too far), it seemed more than plausible, the writers of “Fight Club” were developing Tyler as a demonic force that spurs our hopeless protagonist to lead men into a pseudo-freeing private fight club.

Study the movie in retrospect after realizing the implications of the murder of Tyler in the end. Here’s the reasoning: Tyler is portrayed as an evil counterpart to Jesus Christ. Tyler is a spirit driving out fear and bringing in glory to men especially in his inter-dependent (maybe co-dependent) man at the cost of his own “life.” Tyler provides him his own rendition of an evil form of “grace” as Tyler pounds his Earthly counterpart’s feelings of depravity and lack of significance (literally) out of him. He becomes the catalyst of a weakling’s metamorphosis to fame and power in the world system.

Moreover, Tyler is a blasphemous character, causing the club to spill plenty of blood so as to provide an false atonement for their slavery to sin. You see fighting is the enthusiastic diversion from their greatest need—a need we Christians have fulfilled here on the other side as we are in Christ.

, Tyler’s bullet in the head was the sacrifice for his “friend's” glory making his character more antichirst-like than ever. One take of many I am sure… At the very least, “Fight Club” is a motivating point of my discipleship to Jesus. But, like many who have written in, I would be careful who to recommend this movie to, since the shallow—especially are more likely to foolishly buy into Tyler’s charismatic character. Last comment—as for character development—possibly the best this year. My Ratings: [3/4½]
—Kevin Ford, age 29
“an attempt to dehumanize the world”… I must agree with all that was said about this movie in your review. I did see “Fight Club” and found it very disturbing and glorifying to nihilism. Throughout most of the film I was embarassed and disgusted that at first I really wanted to see it. I know that there is a lot of pain in the “real world,” but why is it necessary to try and glorify Nietche’s philosophy and depress people more by saying that there is no point of living and our ultimate existence is nothing special or great, but rather it is a goal of dying? As a Christian, our ultimate goal is to be lifted in glory with Christ our redeemer, but since we are created in the image of God and ultimately bring glory to Him, there is a reason to go on living on Earth for His purposes. “Fight Club” though technically skilled and well acted is nothing more than an attempt to dehumanize the world and take all emotion from it by glorifying a life that signifies nothing. My Ratings: [1/4]
—Rebecca Otten, age 19
Astounding! Timely! Relevant!… I am Jack’s complete and utter astoundment at such an amazing movie! This movie was spectacular. I left the theatre totally moved, not just by the amazing acting and directing, but by the whole plot itself. This is an extremely timely and telling story, relevant to todays materialistic, secular society. I must admit, the plot twist caught me totally by surprise though I realized that I should have seen it coming.

As far as a Christian perspective on the movie, the violence was rather graphic, but from the perspective of one who just CANNOT watch gore I actually got through this movie with no problem. The fact that the violence was not gratuitous, and actually added to the plot (which violence rarely does to most horror and gory movies). Yes, the movie was nihilistic, but I realized that this is exactly the paradigm I would accept if I did not know the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ.

The movie also spoke volumes of the vain futility of materialism and allowing our job and possessions to define, and ultimately possess us. Since the movie was not written by Christians (I presume), the ultimate answer (Jesus Christ) was obviously not portrayed in the film, but this isn’t surprising in the secular film industry, and please don’t let this fact influence your decision to view the film.

Actually, despite its lack of Christianity, the film was refreshingly honest in its negative views of what our materialistic society has become. I also like the fact that the film doesn’t pretend to give us the answer, leaving that up to the viewer to discover for himself. So use this opportunity to show your unsaved friends the true futility of life without Jesus Christ.

I would not advise that teenagers or children under 16 watch this movie (actually, I wouldn’t recommend that children watch it at all) without their parents, but if you are looking for a deep, philosophical, moving film to watch this weekend, I heartily recommend “Fight Club.” My Ratings: [3/5]
—Drew Costen, age 22
May give the wrong message to some… I am surprised to see all these people above glorify this movie, depicting it as a classic and so. The good point about it is that it is not a movie in which you can predict what is going to happen next.

Though I am against violence I don’t make a drama when I see most scenes, but I have never seen a movie which depicts violence and bad social behaviour in such a glorified, real way. Obviously this has consequences, but not the ones you expect to have in the real world… Though there’s a reflection about consumerism in the movie, the message which many young ones will get is: violence is so funny, you can take out your frustrations with it. Violence makes me the hero. If you were asking me my opinion, I wouldn’t see this movie. My Ratings: [1½/3½]
—Laura, age 24
“Violent, anti-social, and anti-God”… I would not and could not recommend Fight Club to a Christian audience. The movie from beginning to end is violent, ant-social and anti-God. Brad Pitts character declares “There is no redemption. There is no salvation!” The Lord’s name is taken in vain. The main characters are on a quest for something more in life. Where do they go? To all the wrong places to find it. Fight Club did have some good points that questions “Who are we?” “Why are we so focused on material possesions, wordly success and then wonder why we feel so dead inside?” Unfortunatley the bad points far outweigh the few too good ones. It scares me to think how many copycat crimes will emerge from Fight Club as we flock to our theatres.
—Laura Calvaruso, age 26
The best movie I can’t recommend… Wow. David Fincher once more brings to the fore a cinematic cataclysm. This may be the best movie of 1999 that I can’t recommend. Why not? Not because I think that the sex is particularly raunchy. Nor because of the attitude and worldview espoused. It’s the violence. Not that the violence is gratuitous, mindless, or any of the other buzz-words so often associated with such films. Rather, the violence is realistic (I would suppose…) and is sometimes difficult to stomach. Bare-fisted pugilism is by necessity a brutal activity and so this film in documenting such fisticuffs becomes via transposition, brutal. My caution would be: Do not see this movie. That being said, “Fight Club” was probably the best movie I’ve seen this year. My Ratings: [2/5]
—Seth T. Hahne, age 26
“We can use these images as a catalyst”… This movie is disturbing and yet masterfully made. I agree that it is not a movie for someone who expects to be merely entertained and it definitely could be dangerous in that context. If you are a person who likes to dissect entertainment culture whether in films, books, music, etc., you will find this movie to be very interesting. When I left the theater, my brain was full of thoughts on the lostness of our world, this generation and our culture. I think we could live with blinders as Christians and not want to believe our world is this dark, or we can use these images as a catalyst to return to our calling to “go into all the world.” My Ratings: [2½/5]
—Neil, age 34
“A rewarding experience”… I am impressed witht the review above by Jason Murphy… This film is a classic, now one of my favorites, because of its great excursion into the world of nihilistic philosophy. As a young person raised with Christ from the time I was old enough to go to church, it intrigues me to see different views. Not that I agree with Tyler—I just like to have my thoughts provoked. For those who are cautious about films, do not let the kids see this one. However, go for yourselves. It was a rewarding experience, with great helpings of humor and style served up with an anti-Fascist parable. I think that too many people in the church today are approaching fascism. Let this be a lesson to you. My Ratings: [1½/5]
—Andrew Hager, age 18
After reading many reviews decrying the nihilism of Tyler and the movie, nobody seems to have mentioned the fact that the Narrator (Norton’s character) rebels against this world view, and actively resists (destroys) Tyler at the end (himself). No good movie is entirely one-sided. This is a movie about someone rejecting nihilism! He starts off in the support groups, because he has nothing inside himself (Tyler is hidden at this point). By the end of the movie, after destroying the invention created to fill that gap, he’s better able to face the world and take part in it. Most messages with any importance are hard to swallow… My Ratings: [5/5]
—Douglas, age 36, non-Christian
I am not a Christian, nor do I subscribe to faith-based religions of any kind. I came to this site expecting to read a review on this movie that ignored the subtle (and not so subtle) messages of the film, and I was surprised to see that the reviewer did not condemn the film outright as some Christian sites have done. For that, I applaud you. I recommend this movie wholeheartedly to anyone who wishes to see the best acting, the most cutting-edge cinematography, and messages that are really meant to be dwelt upon and discussed rather than discarded as the trash of a younger generation. Whether or not you believe that God is the answer for all of the angry men in the film is your choice to make. These men chose the brotherhood of a fight club. Are they wrong? They would say “No.” One thing is certain: No one with a clear head would do what the characters of the film end up doing… My Ratings: [1/5]
—Kevin Nieman, age 33, non-Christian
“Pitt’s watershed performance”… Wow. Saw it twice. I’ll see it again. Amazing score, completely synthetic, by the Dust Brothers. Brad Pitt’s watershed performance. This was the role he was born to play. Edward Norton showing everyone again why he’s the academy’s new fortunate son. Helena Bonahm-Carter showing off why she should be in corsets a lot, lot less. David Fincher is the best director of the MTV generation thus far. “Fascism” implies a different image than I think the filmmakers intended. It is an extreme point of view, but definitely not fascist. Acts of terrorism, sex, and brutal, fighting violence are definitely not going to sit well with the conservative crowds. I wouldn’t necessarily prevent kids under 16 from seeing it, but I don’t think they’d really get the ideas or enjoy it, and a very few might get some seriously askew ideas. My Ratings: [2/5]
—Joe Foster, age 20, non-Christian
“Thought provoking”… When I first saw the trailer for “Fight Club” I thought, “this looks like a dumb movie.” Two weeks later I was quite surprised to see critics raving about it. Rolling Stone magazine went as far as calling it “an American classic.” So curiosity and a wrong exit off the freeway led me to the theatre. I was expecting a macho man fight movie that glorified violence. I should have realized sooner that the film had to have some merit with Edward Norton (“American History X”) as the star. True there is blood and there is violence but this is not a mindless flick. In fact, it was quite thought provoking. It is a story of a man who descends into his own madness while trying to find meaning and his identity in a world that bows to consumerism. A world that no longer seems to have a soul. It is not a film for the conservative or the squeamish at heart for it is filled with profanity, violence, sex etc. etc. but for those who are not bothered by this in their art will find a very interesting film. A movie that will not soon be forgotten. If you are looking for answers to fill a troubled soul you will not find them here but you may be able to relate to some of the confusion and the struggle and certainly that might open some doors of conversation. My Ratings: [3/5]
—Don Lambirth, age 31
“A cautionary tale”… The movie seems to involve an exploration of the frustration, alienation, anger of the white, male, blue-collar segment of society. They do not feel part of the current society, do not feel rewarded by it, and finally feel no loyalty towards it. They take out their rage among themselves until one comes along to re-direct their rage against the society which uses them, and proposes a plan to bring the whole society crashing down. A cautionary tale for the elites who use men while forgetting that the men who feed, transport, and guard them are not disposable automata. My Ratings: [3/5]
—Bob Leone, age 43