Rollerball

"Terrible"

Rollerball Review


There's an idea behind remaking old movies that weren't that great in the first place: Instead of screwing up a classic, make a better version of a failed film. Witness, for example, Steven Soderbergh's smarter, snappier Rat Pack-less retread of "Ocean's Eleven," which got several times the cinematic mileage of its predecessor.

But this concept seems to be lost on flash-bang action director John McTiernan, whose vacuous, pure-noise-and-atmosphere update of 1975's "Rollerball" -- a cautionary, futuristic parable of extreme sports bloodlust -- is so devoid of substance it almost defies description.

Rollerball is a ferocious team sport -- part roller derby, part motocross, part World Wrestling Federation -- played in fictionalized and extremely corrupt Central Asian nations. The sport's biggest star is virtuous pall-American import Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein), who has just discovered the league owners are rigging the games for more violence because spilt blood spells ratings for their TV networks.

The two or three scenes that actually deal with plot find Jonathan trying to escape (apparently the owners will spare no expense to scare their players out of quitting) and, failing that, trying to avoid game-time assassination attempts in the Rollerball rink. While dodging death, he leads his glossy, leather-clad teammates -- who look like rejects from "Mad Max: The Musical" -- to victory in 90 minutes of heavy metal video montages, edited together by someone with the attention span of a gnat.

McTiernan takes several pages from Paul Verhoeven's half-witted "Starship Troopers" playbook, valuing stylish, pyrotechnic stunts above all else and plying "Rollerball" with actors who either chew scenery (Jean Reno as a greedy team owner) or lack the depth of scenery, like the benign Klein and model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. She plays a scar-faced tough cookie Rollerball biker with a heart of gold.

Entire scenes serve no purpose, like this girl dragging Klein to a dilapidated Eastern Bloc apartment building to look for someone who isn't there and is never mentioned again. The film makes superficial attempts at dim-bulb irony (elementary "1984" allusions, etc.). The entirely arbitrary climax comes not because of a progression of the plot but simply because the script says it's time to wrap things up. Klein's inevitable showdown with Reno is so rudimentary it could have taken place any time after he feels the urge to squash the guy 30 minutes into the picture.

The 1975 "Rollerball" -- which took place in a sterile 21st Century when corporations have replaced countries -- at least had underlying omen-of-the-future themes. This version is nothing but an exploitation of the very thing it purports to condemn: virtually plotless violence as crass entertainment.



Rollerball

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th February 2002

Box Office USA: $18.9M

Distributed by: MGM/UA Distribution Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 3%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 113

IMDB: 2.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jonathan Cross, as Marcus Ridley, as Aurora, as Sanjay, as Alexi Petrovich, as Sanjay, as Denekin, as Serokin, Eugene Lipinski as Yuri Kotlev, Frank Ferrara as Assistant Gold Coach, Janet Wright as Coach Olga, as Red Team #9

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.