The wrath of Caan
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
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