Anna’s life is falling apart and she needs some self-confidence. That’s the ostensible thrust of director Paul Leyden’s Chick Fight, which bravely asks: What if Fight Club… but with women? Actually, that’s not right. Leyden’s film, written by Joseph Downey, contains none of David Fincher’s brutal humour or nihilism (to say nothing of his technique); it lacks basic drama or comedy too. Instead, we watch as Anna (Malin Akerman) just dutifully gets her life together. A knockout this film ain’t.
To move things along in Chick Fight, sassy cop Charleen (Dulcé Sloan) introduces Anna to the aforementioned fight club as a means to get over her mother’s death and retake control of her life. Next, Anna gets a trainer, Jack (Alec Baldwin), a drunk Mr. Miyagi-type meant to provide more comedic relief. She also accidentally picks up a rival, Olivia (Bella Thorne), who wants to make the club’s combat meaner than its rah-rah sisterhood origins. How each one of these narrative elements leads to another is not confusing, it’s just that the film wholly lacks any urgency. Why does any of this matter? What’s worse, as a hang-out movie (what with Kevin Connolly and Kevin Nash also popping in), the film does not provide enough laughs to entertain in the meantime. Sloan does her best to liven things up, Akerman is game for anything (Leyden revels in using slo-mo to really capture her martial anguish), and Thorne appears to have been beamed in from a different, more bizarre movie—but it all feels quite inconsequential.
I hesitated to bring up Fight Club off the top because that film is loaded with its own pros and cons, and is very much its own thing. Still, it at least understands how best to use force to push viewers around—towards a revelation or just a chuckle. Its combat has subtext too, digging at toxic masculinity while whipping up broader anarchy. Chick Fight, meanwhile, just wants everyone to punch themselves out and get back to work.