Rollerball

Film Review by Philip Concannon | 23 Mar 2015
  • Rollerball
Film title: Rollerball
Director: Norman Jewison
Starring: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn
Release date: 23 Mar
Certificate: 15

Forty years on from its release, there's no doubt that Rollerball feels like a prescient film. It's set in a world run by corporations and its use of a violent spectacle to simultaneously entertain and subdue the masses has a clear resonance in today's wildly popular Hunger Games series.

Norman Jewison's film plays with a lot of smart and pointed ideas, but over the course of its generous running time that's about all the film does with them. With its sluggish pacing, Rollerball gradually loses momentum between its slickly constructed game sequences, which still possess a bruising impact and remain oddly mesmerising even as the sport's rules are totally bewildering. Shave off 20-odd minutes and put someone like Paul Verhoeven at the helm, and it's easy to imagine Rollerball being a masterpiece of violent, outrageous satire. As it is, this solemn picture is an example of interesting ideas crying out for sharper execution. [Philip Concannon]