Christian Bale, with a notoriously intense commitment to roles and an ability to lead in heavy drama, thriller and superhero films alike, consistently delivers raving performances. American Psycho, coupled with the similarly gone awry role he played in Shaft that same year, marked the beginning of an adult renaissance after earning some meager (but mostly working) careers following early ’90s movies like Newsies. years behind him” and “Swing Kids”. As it turns out, Bateman provided the perfect opportunity for Bale to flex his acting (and ridiculously fit) muscles.
Like Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle or Michael Rooker in Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer, Bale was up to the opportunity to play a despicable antihero. Throughout the film, Bale walks a tightrope of polite conversation, moments of insanity, and dialogue so surreal it’s practically SNL.
While the film’s disturbing graphic content led to controversial critical and public reception, Bale’s performance was widely praised. Roger Ebert – the late godfather of film criticism – called Bale’s performance “heroic” in his review. He particularly noted Bale’s masterful ability to throw caution to the wind and “jump joyfully into despicableness.” Bale isn’t just overdoing it as a Bateman, he’s erasing the bar. It’s wonderfully cruel to watch.