When I start off a review with the words “Even ‘Batman & Robin’ had pretty colours” you know to start worrying. I’ve never seen the original 1975 James Caan film on which this is based but I can tell you the modern update of the action thriller is quite easily the worst film of the year so far.
When one writes a review one tries to list both the good and bad qualities of the film in question. Aside from some occasional flashes of nicely formed breasts which’ll appeal to the horny young male demographic, I can’t think of any positives about this. The script is abominable with some truly awful dialogue and flat characterisation – ranging from the Jonathan Cross character which starts out more naive than a 36-year-old puritanical virgin, and in the final and utterly laughable last 15 minutes turns into a psycho killing machine.
Klein, Cool J and Stamos aren’t exactly known for their acting talent which shows, whilst even Reno can’t save an utterly unthreatening villain. Only one moment shows any vague attempt at depth (and I ain’t talking the topless weightlifting scene) and that’s Klein talking to Stamos about her scar – I thought “finally we might be getting somewhere”, no such luck. In a film talking about the topic of violence in sport and the effect on audiences it surprisingly never really goes into any depth whatsoever on the issue.
Director McTiernan flashes us with lots of quick camera angles and lights to hide the fact the majority of the film is shot on the same set even though the costume garbs of the extras is changed to suit the most stereotypical views young American teenagers would have of central-Asian cultures. The Rollerball sequences are visually well shot but there’s just zero tension or interest in seeing any of the characters survive thus the atmosphere during the game sequences is just dead.
Another action sequence is shot entirely in infrared cameras but on the big screen ends up looking an utterly green grainy mess. The savage edits to the violence and sexual content is quite visible which is a shame as that could’ve at least proven one redeeming thing about the garbage that went up on screen. Maybe the original cut with the nudity and violence intact was much better and will hopefully be included on the DVD, cause sadly what’s here now is a dud plain and simple and doesn’t even have comedy value ala “Battlfield Earth”.