American Psycho (2000)

american psycho poster 2000 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visual: 8/10

Christian Bale

Story's social commentary seems to never make it over the hump

Movie Info

Movie Name:  American Psycho

Studio:  Am Psycho Productions/Lions Gate Films/Muse Productions

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s):  January 21, 2000 (Sundance)/April 14, 2000 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

american psycho patrick bateman christian bale mask

Taking off the mask?

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) lives a stressful but lucrative life as an investment banker in the 1980s eat-or-be-eaten New York City.  The big money jobs Bateman pulls off just fend off the sharks in the water where even a classy new business card or a high end restaurant reservation could mean war.  Bateman’s got a secret which he isn’t great at keeping…Bateman’s a serial killer.  Attacking and chopping up various people through torturous means is a relief for the high stress and rage that Bateman experiences…and it just seems to be getting worse.

Directed by Mary Harron (who also helped adapt the script with Guinevere Turner), American Psycho is a horror-comedy satire movie.  The film is an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel and was received with mixed to positive reviews.  The film has gained a cult audience over the years since its release.

american psycho patrick bateman sex scene christian bale

Who loves you, Patrick? Me…Patrick…I love me!!!

I read American Psycho which I didn’t love, but I was still curious about the movie.  Harron’s attempt to bring the over-the-top and grueling story to the screen takes big changes and makes some potential changes…and does improve on the source material.  A ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review due to plot points.

The movie largely is about the pressure, the unheard, and the unseen.  Bateman is all about appearances, often doesn’t hide his feelings, and is one of a multitude of “New York Wall Street Guys” that blend together.  This leads you to have to make a decision about what you are seeing.  Are people that superficial that they only hear what they want to hear or can Bateman chase a woman down a hallway with a chainsaw in an apartment building the middle of the night without being seen?  Can he get in a shootout with police complete with blowing up vehicles and easily slip away because he’s unseen?  It really begins to become unlikely and in the end, it most likely has taken place in his head…which is another level of scariness.

american psycho patrick bateman hip to be square christian bale

It’s hip to be square!

Christian Bale is perfect as Patrick Bateman.  He has the look and delivery the character needs.  It is a movie about toxic masculinity, but in general, it is about control and controlling people (really regardless of their sex)…Bateman is insecure but so in love with himself at the same time.  I don’t know that he could be considered a sociopath because he is capable of love…but it is himself that he loves so much.  He’s backed up by a great cast including Willem Dafoe, Josh Lucas, Jared Leto, Samantha Mathis, Chloë Sevigny, Justin Theroux, and Reese Witherspoon…but they are all rather underdeveloped (but this also makes sense since they are his mental constructions of these character instead of “real people”…he sees them as one-dimensional).

american psycho patrick bateman naked chainsaw christian bale

Get ready for the Manhattan Chainsaw Massacre!!!

Visually, the movie is also over the top and loaded with ’80s music that is Bateman’s favorites.  The violence is too much to be real and almost cartoony at times (once again the chainsaw chase…and drop come to mind).  Despite as graphic as some scenes were in the film, those in the book were far more disturbing (including one involving a starving rat and a woman and also a nice treat from the bathroom for Reese Witherspoon’s character).

American Psycho definitely has its moments, but it still feels unbalanced.  I feel that it starts to get into some interesting social commentary, but doesn’t quite get as deep as it could, but as a result, the movie dodges a lot of the horrific moments that could have really indicated the depths of Bateman’s sickness in his mind.  The film has ties to other Eastman “world” books and films like The Rules of Attraction and was followed by a loose sequel American Psycho 2 in 2002.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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