Ninety-eight minutes of action-packed disappointment describes “Rollerball” in a nutshell.
“Rollerball” includes two teams, each consisting of vividly-dressed rollerbladers and motorcyclists, chasing after a metallic ball in order to score. All of this takes place on what appears to resemble a figure-eight racetrack, where the ball must hit a gong hard enough to diffuse sparks.
As exciting as this sounds, Director John McTiernan (“Die Hard”) failed to make the film clear. The rules and point of the game seem to be irrelevant and misunderstood; even the players themselves admit the confusion. After all of the brilliant colors, high speeds and relentless noise from the arena, not much else is happening.
Chris Klein’s efforts at a new, serious role fall short of his comedic performances in “American Pie” and “American Pie 2.” Klein plays Jonathon Cross, a wholesome American boy who followed his best friend, Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J), to a Central Asian republic to play rollerball. These two actors generate about enough charisma to put the audience to sleep.
Cross and Ridley initially play rollerball in order to make some fast cash, but they soon realize that rollerball’s owner Petrovich (Jean Reno) purposely injures players in order to deliver higher ratings and please audiences. The more violent the injury, the higher the ratings. The entire plot centers on this controversy.
The film incorporates the typical Hollywood additions in order to distract the viewer from the atrocious acting and an incoherent script, including flashy new Ferraris, helicopters, motorcycles, planes, guns, some sex and lots of blood. Add a sexy Russian named Aurora (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), and you’ve got an action-packed thriller – or not. n