Rollerball (1975)

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The star player of a gladiatorial future sport is ordered to retire by the corporate executives who see his popularity as a threat to their totalitarian grip on society, but when he resists they begin to change the rules of the game to ensure his failure.

Rollerball is another example of 1970’s dystopian sci-fi that mingles brutal action sequences that represent the games and more measured, cerebral scenes that examine the nature of a society in the thrall of fascism. Obviously very much based on the Roman concept of “bread and circuses”, the character of Jonathan E. begins to question his role despite all the comforts he has come to enjoy at the behest of the faceless corporations who now wish him to disappear. James Caan makes a solid anti-hero who only stops to think about the political situation once it directly affects his own wants and needs and there is a memorable cameo from Ralph Richardson as an eccentric librarian.

There is perhaps a little too much disparity between its bloody action and the extremely low key concept driven scenes in between, but Rollerball is still a thought provoking sci-fi with plenty of nostalgic 1970’s styling to enjoy.

7/10

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