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Aimed at the same undemanding audience that ate up 1987’s The Running Man, Rollerball is an ear-splitting cinematic mosh pit that’s equal parts reality TV, pro wrestling and extreme roller derby.
We first meet hotshot adrenaline junkie Jonathan Cross (Klein) street-luging through traffic (kids, don’t try this at home). A buddy convinces him to make his fortune playing a wild new sport ruled by gamblers and instant ratings. Cross is an overnight star. He has it all: fame, fortune, forbidden sexual trysts with a shapely teammate. But his cushy gig turns ugly. The league’s unscrupulous owner engineers violent "accidents" to boost sagging ratings. By the final match, rules disappear and the brutality nears gladiatorial proportions. Predictably, the chaos ends with Cross killing the evil dudes on the other side of the safety glass.
Rollerball glories in the same vulgar excesses as its characters. Near-nude women in dominatrix garb prance across gaudy sets. Viewers get bludgeoned by beatings, shootings and a deafening rock soundtrack (vile band Slipknot makes a headbanging onscreen cameo). Inane, macho dialogue—riddled with more than 40 profanities—treats ladies as either sex objects or tough-as-nails peers.
How badly made is this movie? During an intense chase scene, vehicles plow through a barb wire fence to a "boinnng!" sound right out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The stock effect is so inappropriate it’s hysterical. It’s still early, but expect Rollerball to be on more than one secular critic’s "10 Worst" list at the end of the year. Why does junk like this keep getting made? To quote a character in the film, "If they’ll buy it, I’ll sell it." Let’s hope young moviegoers aren’t buying.
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Chris Klein as Jonathan Cross; Jean Reno as Alexis Petrovich; Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Aurora; LL Cool J as Marcus Ridley