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Release:
2002, MGM
Starring:
Chris Klein, LL Cool J, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Director:
John McTiernan
MPAA Rating:
[R] violence, nudity, sexuality, language
Genre:
Action
Runtime:
97 minutes

Summary
A star player in the violent sport of rollerball (Klein) risks his life to expose the game's corruption.

What's Good
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos has some sexy scenes

What's Bad
sluggish and completely lacking in action
boring characters
weak story with idiotic conclusion
badly edited and visually unappealing

Commentary
Reviewer: Andrew Manning (December 2002)

In a media-frenzied world that puts the almighty dollar above everything else, the violent sport of rollerball has become a popular international pastime. Two players in particular have risen to stardom in this brutal game: Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein) and Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J). When they discover that their team's owner, Alexi Petrovich (Jean Reno), is adding lethal elements to the game to boost ratings, they set out to expose the corruption with the help of fellow rollerballer Aurora (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos).

A remake of the 1975 film with the same title, Rollerball delivers on its promise of a sexy Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. On the court, she's clad in tight leather, while off the court, she gets the chance to slink around wearing less than she did in X-Men. But that's just about the only thing this movie has to offer. With shocking stupidity, Rollerball completely forgets to bring the action--an idiotic move for what is supposed to be nothing but fast-paced adrenaline.

The sport of rollerball is ineptly depicted as a sluggish combination of rollerblading and basketball. The players (some wearing very queer masks) look like a pack of clumsy girl scouts as they skate slowly in the ring, while motorcycles inexplicably thrown into the mix seem to putt along like golf carts. Slow motion effects used during the game don't help matters either. What purpose is served by toning things down when they're already crawling at a snail's pace? The editing is incompetent and the special effects are virtually non-existent, two tools that could have salvaged some decent eye candy, if nothing else.

The characters are all listless, with the actors doing little to inject life into their roles. Chris Klein continues to do his boring nice guy routine, playing Jonathan Cross like Oz from the American Pie films instead of an extreme sports badass. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos looks good, but doesn't use that sauce to make Aurora live up to her nickname of The Black Widow, avoiding anything that could be considered violent or cutthroat. Jean Reno's Alexi Petrovich is so one-dimensionally evil that in many ways, he's just as boring as Cross. LL Cool J's Ridley is about the only mildly interesting character--an accountant turned rollerball player who is both a fame-loving showboat and an older brother figure to his teammates. (He endears himself quickly at the beginning of the movie by calling Cross a "doofus ass whiteboy.")

Had it been more accomplished, Rollerball's story could have been an effective depiction of a dystopian nightmare. But in this action flick gone wrong, it comes across as sheer lunacy, culminating in a silly revolution in which the players "take back the sport from the Man." Imagine Shaquille O'Neal breaking into a skybox and killing all of the big wigs there with a basketball, then leading his teammates and fans on a political revolution outside the Staples Center--that's the level of believability we're looking at in the film's conclusion (although I think my Shaq Gone Wild pay-per-view extravaganza is a lot more enthralling).

Rollerball is a badly executed attempt at action that can't even be relied upon to deliver mindless and gratuitous violence. It's so lethargic and low-octane that it's no wonder Universal sued MGM over promos that linked it to the markedly better The Fast and the Furious. If you decide to watch this movie, I recommend skipping to Romijn's nudity, then watching the trailer, which at least gives the illusion of breakneck speed--those are the only highlights in this 5-mph trainwreck.


Rating: 2.5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

Related Material
Celebrity Pictures and Profile: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
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