When Jonathan Cross's dreams of playing for the National Hockey League don't pan out, he joins the world of Rollerball, a mix of rugby, roller derby, hockey and motorcycle racing run by an evil conglomerate.
Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein) is down and out in California when he runs into his old friend Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J) driving a pricey sports car and dripping in gold jewelry. As it turns out, Ridley is making it big in an international Rollerball league and convinces Cross to do the same. Fast-forward four months into the future and Jonathan has become one of the biggest and most sought-after Rollerball stars. He's rich, drives a nice car and is having a steamy relationship with his teammate Aurora (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos). From the looks of it, Rollerball is a serious moneymaking operation: We are constantly shown million of dollars worth of currency going through money counters at record speed. And by the instant ratings numbers that appear on the organizer's monitors, it's obvious that Rollerball fever has taken over the world. When conniving Rollerball creator Petrovich (Jean Reno) discovers that the ratings go through the roof when blood gets spilled, things start to go very wrong. Cross and his teammates suddenly find themselves playing for their lives.
Chris Klein (American Pie 2) is Jonathan Cross, the all-American Rollerball player, but he underplays the role. You would expect a character in his position to have a certain amount of charisma and charm, but Klein's delivery is a bit deadpan and lacking in attitude. His best pal Marcus Ridley is played by LL Cool J (Kingdom Come), who manages to add a bit of dimension to his otherwise underdeveloped character. In fact, he may have been better suited for the lead. The only good part about model-turned-actress Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' (X-Men) role is that it didn't incorporate too many lines. Sounding like Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle, you have to wonder what she was thinking with that accent, which (contrary to the actress' recent statement on MTV that a bad accent is not necessarily bad acting) certainly is part of the acting, and certainly is bad. Jean Reno (Just Visiting) was probably the most interesting character. He was all bad without a single redeeming quality which he at least pulled off with flair, whether it was in his delivery or his elaborate fur coats.
Rollerball is director John McTiernan's (The Thomas Crown Affair) take on the 1975 classic directed by Norman Jewison. There is definitely enough action in Rollerball to keep viewers interested, but the major problems lies within the characters' development-there isn't any. So while the action may keep your eyeballs glued to the screen momentarily, you will find yourself indifferent to the characters, their plight and what happens to them. Cross and Aurora's relationship, for example, is implied through one hastily done sex scene in the gym. Consequently, when the evil Petrovich threatens to hurt her if Cross tries to leave the game, we could care less because we don't really know her, or how important she is to Cross. Being such an internationally renowned sport, the accents, which play a big part in the film, are done too shoddily. The French accents go from Canadian to European within a sentence, and that's only from the ones I could pick up. Who knows what other languages were massacred in the process?
Rollerball is slightly entertaining, if you don't stop and think about it too much. Otherwise, you'll realize how silly it actually is.