a critiQal film review Rollerball (2002)

Plot: Ridley (LL Cool J) introduces Jonathan Cross (Klein) to the most extreme sport of all time..Rollerball. Cross is caught up in the money and fame until an "accident" on the track causes him to rethink his values. Now, he must fight the owner (Reno), as well as some of the other players, in a game for high stakes...his life.

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  • ...lead by a miscast Klein, this remake is a bit of a disappointment.

I guess you could say that Rollerball is rather underwhelming. The performances are mediocre, the special effects are a bit too overwhelming, and it moves at too quick a pace to involve you. By the time you start caring about the characters, half of them have disappeared, and the movie’s almost over.

Chris Klein is another of those goody two-shoes boys trying to be an action hero (see The Bourne Identity (2002)). He doesn’t pull it off as well as Damon. You just don’t see him as an extreme sports kinda guy.

Rebecca Romijn and LL Cool J turn in decent performances, but seem to be a bit ill-used in the script. Jean Reno plays a bad guy well, but it’s already starting to get old.

A surprisingly decent performance is also turned in by Paul Heyman (of WWE and ECW fame), but the much-hyped (on WWE) performance of Shane McMahon is almost non-existent.

The special effects are over-the top. The game itself is a mass of rollerbladers and motorbikers swerving around and around, going over jumps, even going over the wall on occasion. You are so intent on watching all the jumps, etc., you don’t pay as much attention to the plot.

That’s one thing this has in common with The Fast and the Furious (2001). In that, it was the cars that you concentrated on, in this one, the stunts.

The plot was decent overall, but it wound too quickly through the introduction, and sacrificed a bit on the caring level of the audience. By the time a major player gets taken out of the game, you’re still trying to figure out how everyone relates to each other, and how much you should care about that person.

The DVD features are good, but they should have thrown in a Rollerball game. With this movie, it’s almost a given someone is going to come out with a game, either on the computer, or the latest video game system. A chance to play the game would have been nice.

“The Stunts of Rollerball” featurette is excellent, and gives you a lot of background on the minor players, many of which are famous in their own right.

All in all, a bit of a disappointment. Maybe with a bit more lead-in, and someone other than Chris Klein as the major character, Rollerball could have skated right to the top. As it is, it trips a bit, and turns out to be just a possible rental.

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