Roller­ball

The wrath of Caan

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - DVD & Blu-Ray -

Re­lease Date: 16 March

15 | 125 min­utes | Blu- ray Direc­tor: Nor­man Jewi­son Cast: James Caan, John House­man, Maud Adams, John Beck As a dystopic SF movie with a sav­age, of­ten lethal sport at its cen­tre, it wouldn’t be too hard to re­tool Roller­ball for a Young Adult au­di­ence. But just be­cause the kicker- against- the- pricks here is an al­pha male thir­tysome­thing and not a bowwield­ing stripling, that doesn’t make Roller­ball any bet­ter than The Hunger Games or The Maze Run­ner – in fact, it takes it­self so se­ri­ously that it feels as emo­tion­ally dead as the so­ci­ety it’s sup­pos­edly warn­ing us about.

James Caan is the sport­ing hero Jonathan E, whose pop­u­lar­ity, so think the rulers of his cor­po­ra­tion- run world, runs con­trary to the aim of Roller­ball, which was cre­ated to demon­strate “the fu­til­ity of in­di­vid­ual ef­fort”. When he re­fuses to re­sign, for rea­sons never prop­erly ex­plained, the ex­ec­u­tives keep chang­ing the rules of the game un­til it’s so danger­ous that Jonathan will be killed.

It’s dif­fi­cult to truly care about Jonathan’s plight though, if only be­cause Caan barely gives the char­ac­ter a heart­beat. Jonathan may be a hero in the arena, but as a per­son he’s a colour­less knuck­le­head, more Wayne Rooney than Eric Can­tona, whose emo­tional and in­tel­lec­tual il­lit­er­acy makes for a frus­trat­ingly un­der­pow­ered anti- hero.

Else­where, the pac­ing is as list­less at its pro­tag­o­nist. Only when direc­tor Nor­man Jewi­son gets in­side the arena does the movie – and Jonathan him­self – find any en­ergy. Oth­er­wise, it’s a cu­ri­ously me­an­der­ing film, as so­porific and well- be­haved as its cen­tral sport is nim­ble and bru­tal.

Ex­tras: Car­ried over from the 2002 DVD re­lease are a cou­ple of commentaries, from direc­tor Nor­man Jewi­son ( very chatty, very proud) and screen­writer Wil­liam Har­ri­son ( in­for­ma­tive, but pauses for min­utes at a time), a 25- minute Mak­ing Of, TV spots and trail­ers. New ad­di­tions in­clude stunt­man Craig R Bax­ley on the movie’s mo­tor­cy­cle stunts ( 17 min­utes), some vin­tage on- set in­ter­views ( eight min­utes), a fea­turette on the film’s Mu­nich lo­ca­tions ( 19 min­utes) and a new in­ter­view with James Caan ( 11 min­utes). Steve O’Brien

Karl had read the dress code for the Bar Mitz­vah com­pletely wrong.

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