Rollerball (1975/2002)

D: Norman Jewison
United Artists (Norman Jewison)
UK/US 1975
129 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: William Harrison [based on his short story 'Roller Ball Murder']
DP: Douglas Slocombe
Ed: Antony Gibbs
Mus: Andre Previn
PD: John Box

James Caan (Jonathan E), John Houseman (Mr. Bartholomew), Maud Adams (Ella), John Beck (Moonpie), Moses Gunn (Cletus), Ralph Richardson (Librarian)

Cult sci-fi, though it's dated incredibly badly. 
Set in the 21st century, an ultra violent sport is used as a way of controlling the population and the sport’s most famous player refuses to retire at the behest of the elites who control it, and instead makes a stand against them.
For a film made in 1975, the production design, special effects and stunts are well visualised and directed, but one huge pet hate is that the rules of the game are never explained during any point of the film. A remake, released in 2002, updated many elements of the production but didn't improve on the story. In fact, if was much, much worse.

Rollerball (1975)
Rollerball (1975)


D: John McTiernan

MGM / Atlas / Helkon Median / Mosaic Media / Toho Towa / Yorkstown (John McTiernan, Charles Roven & Beau St. Clair)

US/Germany/Japan 🇺🇸🇩🇪🇯🇵 2002

98 mins

Action/Science Fiction

W: Larry Ferguson & John Pogue [based on the 1975 screenplay by William Harrison]

DP: Steve Mason

Ed: John Wright

Mus: Eric Serra

Chris Klein (Jonathan Cross), Jean Reno (Alexi Petrovich), LL Cool J (Marcus Ridley), Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Aurora), Naveen Andrew (Sanjay)

Poor remake of the 1975 film with a lacklustre cast, no sense of direction and a truly risible script.

The plot is basically the same, though it is set in the near “future” of 2005 and focuses more on the action elements, dropping the political and social overtones for something truly basic and brainless.

Chris Klein is totally miscast as a frat boy lead, though Rebecca Romijn-Stamos’ performance is the true shocker.

I always felt that the 1975 was deserving of an update, but it would have fared much better in the hands of a director like Paul Verhoeven, perhaps. Director John McTiernan does have some pedigree with action movies, but it felt like he simply couldn’t be bothered with this at all.

The film was a huge flop, and it deserved to be.


Rollerball (2002)
Rollerball (2002)