The world of 2018 is a global corporate state made up of uber-companies such as the Energy Corporation, a super-monopoly based in Houston that controls access to all transport, luxury, housing, communication, food‚ and entertainment. And in this world, Jonathan E. (James Caan) kicks ass as the star player of Rollerball, a violent full-contact sport that's kind of like roller derby except it involves a spiked steel sphere and players often get killed while playing it; after Jonathan is suddenly and seemingly inexplicably pressured to retire, he exposes the corruption of this dystopia that's looking to destroy all sense of individualism. Rollerball is terrific as both a hardcore sports movie and a Brave New World-style cautionary tale about never losing sight of checks and balances when it comes to big business; Caan is perfectly cast as the outlawed "rugged individual," making for a kind of tough-guy everyman that has you rooting for him both on and off the track, and John Houseman makes for a particularly intimidating white collar villain. There are some aspects of this 1975 mini-classic that inevitably haven't aged very well, but it's far and away preferable to the rancid 2002 remake starring Chris Klein and LL Cool J that was seemingly directed by Die Hard helmer John McTiernan via fax.
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