By Josh Albrecht

At no point during this movie does one ever really feel like the movie knows what’s going on, let alone the audience watching it.

“Rollerball” (Metro-Goldwyn Mayer) suffers from so many poor qualities that it can’t find any way to exist as an action movie, or any type of movie, especially since it isn’t until the end of the movie when one realizes that the movie was attempting to exist as a metaphor for politics.

The movie starts with Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein of “American Pie 2”) committing the crime of street luging, which prompts authorities to stake out his apartment in hopes of arresting him. Instead of facing the police, Jonathan opts to take the offer from his long-time friend Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J) to play in the Rollerball league with him. The catch is, Rollerball is based in Central Asia with a country ending in “stan” (it’s never really said which one) acting as the home for the Horsemen, the team that Jonathan and Marcus both play for.

A mere four months later, Jonathan is the top star in Rollerball, and he has the cars and the women to prove it. But we quickly find out that Jonathan only has eyes for one girl; Aurora (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), who also is on his team.

As far as the actual sport of Rollerball goes, the movie gives a quick description of how the game works, but it’s so silly that one wonders how it could become an international phenomenon.

The intensity of the announcers, coupled with the crazy outfits worn by the players, make the sport appear as a no-holds-barred, fast-paced event that’s not to be missed, but the camera work makes it look like a mess of people skating in circles.

The worst part of the erratic camera work is that one never gets to see anything but extreme close-ups and blurred characters as the camera tries to keep up. And with that, what is supposed to be an intense game turns into a confusing sequence of explosions and loud music.

Eventually, the game begins to get too violent, as the owner of the Horsemen Alexi Petrovich (Jean Reno) and apparently the entire league (the movie never really makes this clear) want more blood so the ratings will go up. The plan is that if ratings go up, then there will be more gambling and Alexi can make more money off of the poor men slaving in the coal mines.

Here is where the political metaphor takes hold, as Jonathan begins to revolt against the tyrannical rule of Alexi. But the metaphor is so weak that it happens in an almost “oh by the way” manner. A few references to suffering miners and then having them chant for Jonathan as he fights back against Alexi don’t really show the power of revolution.

So, the entire plot of the movie and its higher meaning get completely washed away and the movie crumbles as if it were the very thing that the characters were revolting against.

The erratic scenes and the horrendous editing create a mess that no amount of good acting could clean up. It’s impossible to take any of the characters seriously when an editing splice makes the actor’s head face a completely different direction in mid-word.

And there’s really no telling why we are subjected to giant images of the singer Pink displayed on television screens in several shots, waving her hands and opening her mouth. She has no character and never speaks a word, but in the credits is listed as the narrator. However, we never hear her voice throughout the entire movie or are given any reason for her appearance – this is likely another major editing error.

It’s easy to feel bad for everyone involved with the movie because there was plenty of promise for a good action movie with a piece of social commentary nudged in, but instead, something went terribly wrong during production and the movie never recovered.