Critics Consensus

In Rollerball, social commentary collides with high-speed action -- and the audience is the winner.



Total Count: 31


Audience Score

User Ratings: 12,260
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Rollerball Photos

Movie Info

In a future world ruled by industrialists, "civilized" society has removed violent activity and a new sport, rollerball, has emerged. The industrialists oppose the ultimate rollerball champ, fearing that his popularity will make him too powerful. To get rid of him, they make contests last until one side is vanquished.

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James Caan
as Jonathan E.
John Houseman
as Bartholomew
John Beck
as Moonpie
Moses Gunn
as Cletus
Shane Rimmer
as Team Executive
Burnell Tucker
as Jonathan's Captain of Guard
Angus MacInnes
as Jonathan's Guard
Richard Le Parmentier
as Bartholomew's Aide
Burt Kwouk
as Doctor
Robert Ito
as Instructor
Nancy Blair
as Girl In Library
Loftus Burton
as Reporter
Abi Gouhad
as Reporter
Bob Leon
as Biker
John Normington
as Executive
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Critic Reviews for Rollerball

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (7)

  • Jewison's extreme-sports future shock bundles together a paranoid political thriller, a McLuhan-drunk media satire, ultraviolent exploitation, reverent respect for faddish athletic pursuits and enough zoom shots to make Robert Altman blush.

    May 30, 2018 | Full Review…
  • James Caan, on roller skates, is trying to save the world. This needs a bit of explaining, which is only the beginning of the trouble with Rollerball.

    Aug 4, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Norman Jewison's sensational futuristic drama about a world of Corporate States stars James Caan in an excellent performance as a famed athlete who fights for his identity and free will.

    Aug 4, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • Lifeless, uninspired, and crammed with enough hints of intellectual consistency to give the socially conscious critical establishment shivers of excitement.

    Jun 5, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Ultimately, Rollerball gets by on its sheer monolithic quality - an abundance of quantity. Despite indifferent direction and dire humour, it is well mounted and photographed.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Everyone else, including Mr. Caan and John Houseman, who plays a leading Houston executive, is more solemn and serious than the movie ever merits.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 1.5/5

Audience Reviews for Rollerball

  • Jan 22, 2018
    This is one of the better 70s films that takes a closer look at corporations taking over everything. The film has lived on with the cutting edge stunts and the depiction of a world that is quite frightening with the general push for capitalism in our modern age. James Caan is a great actor and is anchors a film that should not have seen the light of day, it's an odd studio film but Jewison brings that quality he has been well known for. The game is the true reason for the film and it is relentless, you never feel safe while these guys are playing such a ruthless game. This film has stood the test of time and is one of my favourite cult films, even though it did good business at the box office. More films should have this style of filmmaking and a lot less remakes that are extremely empty. A remake of this film has the chance to take the social aspect of this film and dial it up, the reboot ramped up the game which was a bad mistake. 20-01-2017 .
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Dec 03, 2016
    In a future where corporations run pretty much everything and individualism is a big no-no, James Caan is our noble savage, curious as to why he is being asked to retire. Unfortunately that's all there is to this attempt at social commentary which is more flash than dash. Eat your popcorn quickly so as to get a good nap in for the last quarter.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 27, 2016
    Oh my word does this film d-r-a-g. It's not that it's "deliberate" or "thoughtfully paced" - it's just largely very dull, which I was not expecting. The actual games are reasonably exciting and well edited, but the tedium that surrounds them and the utter deficit of interesting characters bores. This film may very well have been an influence on The Running Man and The Hunger Games, but those films (and the books they were based on) are entertaining, clever and sometimes profound. Rollerball just exists.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Oct 08, 2015
    Rollerball is in many ways the perfect four star sci-fi movie. While it is not at the level of a Star Wars, it is a cut above films such as Logan's Run or Soylent Green. It is both dated and futuristic. The filmmaking and acting are very 70s, yet well-done and have a charm (in some ways reminiscent of classic Star Trek). While the film does feature action segments, it is more about the concept world (material utopia, spiritual dystopia) and the quiet hero. Rollerball is a must-see for fans of intelligent sci-fi.
    Robert B Super Reviewer

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