Review Date:
Director: John McTiernan
Writer: Larry Ferguson, John Pogue
Producers: John McTiernan, Charles Roven, Beau St-Clair
Chris Klein as Jonathan Cross
LL Cool J as Marcus Ridley
Jean Reno as Alexi Petrovich
It’s the future and sports have become more violent. A new game called Rollerball features men and women riding motorcycles or rollerblades around a figure-eight course, trying to grab a steel ball and score points, before the other team nails them. But what’s this? There’s a nasty money-grubbing man behind the whole thing who suddenly realizes that putting a little more blood in the games will increase his ratings? Let the crappy remake begin!
Embarrassing…just plain embarrassing. The kind of movie that you might be able to forgive in a few years, if made by a spankin’ new filmmaker, just trying to get his feet wet and getting caught up in a struggle with the studio to make sense of a film, but from veteran director John McTiernan??? (yup, he done DIE HARD, PREDATOR, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER) Someone please send me an interview with this man about his thoughts on this debacle! Yipes. And then there’s Chris Klein…a man who makes Keanu Reeves’ performance in POINT BREAK look like Marlon Brando in his salad days. What the hell were they thinking when they cast the prettiest boy in school to lead in a film about one of the most ferocious sports of the future? (I guess Vin Diesel passed or smelled the stink in the turd) Klein seems like a nice guy in real life, but he should take some lessons from Freddie Prinze Jr., who is at least able to recognize the limitations of his acting “talent”. Many of his deliveries are just plain awful, although I will admit that the horrible dialogue doesn’t help the poor bastard either. But thankfully for him, he’s not alone. LL Cool J plays LL Cool J to a tee and does what he can with his underwritten role, while Jean Reno eats as much scenery as he can, and then eats a little more for his next film too. Rebecca Romjin-Stamos’ character is actually the most interesting (although she has only has a few lines in the entire film), but not enough was done with her, so she ends up being yet another one-dimensional character, like the rest.

What else? Oh yeah, the story. The plotline in this film is predictable, boring, stupid and packed with holes. The bad guys are the same, with no apparent skills in covering up their bad guy tracks either. (everybody knows what they’re up to) The film also sports one of the worst editing jobs that I’ve seen in quite some time, with many of them being too quick to even pick up the action. The games themselves are also unexciting, with more quick cuts and little suspense or interest in any of their outcomes. McTiernan also likes to focus on the band during the games, the reporters (especially this one super-annoying dude who could not have been any more annoying if he tried), money being counted and the ratings meter going up every second (wow, how exciting…). But the ultimate bad choice in this film is a sequence in which the entire screen is in night-vision green for about 5-10 minutes. Why, you might ask? I have no idea!! The tactic might’ve been cute if used for a few seconds, but here we get car chases, gun shots, motorcycles stunts all shown to us through an obvious digital camera, in green…and blurry! All I could say while watching that was, “What the hell were these people thinking?” It felt like amateur hour at the local community college with a few drunk students going out into the desert and fooling around with their video cameras. The scene also features Klein and LL apparently doing 120MPH on a motorcycle, but we as an audience, cannot sense any of that rush, but can definitely imagine them sitting in a studio lot somewhere, with a wind machine blowing really hard in their faces. Yawn.

The studio should be ashamed of releasing a film in such a horrible state. Having already been pushed back from its original release date in 2001, and removed of all its bloodier violence, sex scenes and nudity (so you cast Romjin-Stamos for her good looks, but you have her clothed and masked throughout the entire movie…makes sense to me!), this flick feels like a turd that nobody ever bothered to clean off the floor and just ended up getting stinkier and stinkier and stinkier. But you know me…I try to find “good” elements in all films and I will give this movie super-tiny props for a decent soundtrack, a potentially cool premise in the game, some interesting violent “take-outs” during the matches, a solid opening sequence and much (unintended) humor! It’s not necessarily as “incoherent” as some are making it out to be (although I still have no idea who Sergei was), but it’s definitely a bad movie, through and through. And the worst part about a movie like this is that it doesn’t even achieve its primary goal, which I assume was…to entertain.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian




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