Rollerball [2002]

In the year 2018, violence and crime have been totally eliminated from society and given outlet in the brutal blood sport of rollerball, a high-velocity blend of football, hockey, and motor-cross racing sponsored by the multinational corporations that now control the world following the collapse of traditional politics. James Caan plays Jonathan E., the reigning superstar of rollerball, whose corporate controllers fear that Jonathan's popularity has endowed him with too much power. They begin to pressure him according to their own ruthless set of rules, but Jonathan has rules of his own--the rules of a man determined to retain his soul in a world gone mad. As directed by Norman Jewison (who was enjoying a peak of success during the early and mid-1970s), Rollerball creates a believable society that's been rendered passive and compliant by the homogenization of corporate dictatorships, where the control and flow of information is the only currency of any importance. It's a world in which natural human aggressions have been sublimated and vented through the religious fervor toward rollerball and its players. Rollerball now looks like one of those 1970s science fiction films (another example being Logan's Run) that seems a bit dated and quaint, but its ideas are still provocative and fascinating, and the production is visually impressive. The DVD includes full-screen and widescreen versions of the film, audio commentary by director Norman Jewison, a behind-the-scenes featurette, an interactive "rollergame," trivia, and production notes. --Jeff Shannon

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