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Rollerball 1975 ****

Rollerball was intended as a chiding rebuke to violence is sport, but ends up being a celebration of brutality, and that’s no bad thing in Norman Jewison’s 1975 sci-fi thriller. James Caan is an ideal Jonathan E, a competitor in the sport of Rollerball, a mixture of motorcycling, basketball, wrestling, street-hockey and sudden death that’s used to appease the masses in a dystopian future. Adapted from the late William E Harrison’s novella, Rollerball is pretty astute away from the game, with a futuristic vision of rich, selfish class who destroy their environment for fun, incinerating trees and rather careless with literature. For a film that is purporting to criticize violence, the games scenes are undeniably thrilling, making the woodland scuffles of The Hunger Games look somewhat tame in comparison. And Caan rises to the challenge of making Jonathan E worth rooting for, an everyman who fights on as life gets tougher with each passing game.

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