At the end of Fight Club, our unreliable narrator and his on-again-goth-again crush Marla Singer are standing in a skyscraper, holding hands and staring out the window at a bunch of exploding buildings that used to house credit card companies, thus ushering in the capitalist apocalypse -- you know, average second date fare. This is where the story stops, intentionally leaving both the audience and protagonists wondering what comes next.
20th Century Fox"Damn, the only good bar around was over there."
Except it's really only us in the cheap seats left to ponder, because right after the credits start rolling, both the Narrator and Marla will be dead, the building they're standing in blown to smithereens. And we know this because of one little detail in the first scene of the movie.
The Car Bomb Underneath Their Building Is Still Armed
Fight Club is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of movie, in that blinking will cause you to miss you out on a lot of spliced-in cock shots. But there's one particular moment that completely changes the ending and the message of the movie, and it's the literal blinking of a timer.
When the Narrator successfully defuses a 400-gallon nitroglycerin bomb by pulling a single wire, the timer stops at 25:10. Immediately after, Tyler Durden, realizing his better half is hellbent on sabotaging his plan, beats the shit out of him(self) for around a minute and a half until the Narrator passes out.
We then fast-forward/backward ("Ha, flashback humor") to about 22 minutes later, and Tyler specifically states that it's T-minus three minutes until the big fireworks show. Of course, the audience now knows he's talking about all the other buildings with active bombs, not the one they're in ... right? But let's take a really close look at the first time we see this scene play out, all the way at the beginning of the movie. Look at this shot of the bomb van:
20th Century FoxThe average windowless van can hold up to 400 gallons of nitroglycerin or 17 unconscious women.
It's a really quick and dark moment, so let's brighten it up and turn it around for all the people not reading this on an easily flippable smartphone:
20th Century FoxIt doesn't get more scientific than a CSI zoom-and-enhance.