Henry Bean, director of The Believer, recently complained about the death of politics in American film. Few recent Hollywood movies prove his point more than John McTiernan’s mind-numbineg awful riff on the 1975 James Caan vehicle Rollerball.

Crass and utterly incomprehensible, this new Rollerball does away with the original’s political backdrop, turns the volume up to eleven, and makes like it was written and directed by a middle-aged version of Beavis and Butthead. Did the filmmakers really believe including a few seconds’ worth of Slipknot (sell-outs!) would be enough to fool anyone into thinking that this was a way cool movie?

Just to show how bad things have got in the years since Norman Jewison’s controversial original, instead of a macho hard man such as James Caan we get Chris Klein, an actor who usually plays sweet- natured airheads in comedies such

as American Pie, as the film’s hero. He is a skateboarder who joins the rollerball circuit in central Asia and gradually finds himself at odds with the league’s money-hungry owner

(Jean Reno). Or something like that.

Frankly, I realised within a few minutes that trying to follow the ‘plot’ would be futile.

So what of the rollerball matches? Surely action movie director McTiernan (Predator, Die Hard) must have got those right? Well, no. Like the rest of the movie,

‘What is this shit?’

they are a mess. A risible cross between WWF wrestling and a roller derby, they are shot and edited for maximum impact and miminum sense. When the commentator screamed, ‘What is this shit?’ I was wondering the same myself.

Do yourself a favour and give this a wide berth. If you must see one Rollerball this year, see the original. They do not make them like they used to. They really don’t. (Steven Applebaum) I General release from 28 Jun.


With Barbet Schroeder (Sing/e White Female. Reversal of Fertunei at the helm you kind of know in advance that this is not going to be an average studio thriller. Even if Sandra Bullock. as the maverick investigator. has been ensnared for her star appeal.

Based on the Leopold and Loeb case in which two high school law students murdered a boy to demonstrate their intellectual superiority. this 19208 Chicago true horror story has intrigued filmmakers as diverse as Hitchcock (Rope). Richard Fleischer (Compulsxon) and more recently Tom Kalin (Swooni.

Schroeder updates and alters the material. making many obvious nods en route to Hitch's oeuvre (everything from Vertigo toThe Birds basically). The main element of surprise here however is misSing. When the film opens the student friends (played by Michael Pitt and Ryan Goslingi already are discussing their murder of a young woman. Before long Bullock. an ace detective whose abraswe attitude hardly has endeared her to the rest of her colleagues. has linked the crime to them. but her colleague (an underused Ben Chaplin) prefers to differ and follows the clues to drug dealer Chris Penn.

The chemistry of suspense is not heightened enough for Murder by Numbers to exert a taut and sustained grip. Yet every so often Schroeder provides tantalising glimpses of the chiller that might have been. (Richard Mowei I General relmse from Fri 28 Jun


Putting these two together, that’s what

What's the worst that could happen? I'll tell ya. watcl'iing this visual lobotomy and then being handed DVDs of all Danny DeVito's other buddy movies (Twins. Junior and other excreable moans).

Sam (George of the Jungle) Weissman's comedy is a mess. Star Martin Lawrence gives an indulgent performance. the plot is uncoordinated and the supporting cast are strangely underused yet over the top.

Lawrence plays Kevin. a thief who is given a ring by new girlfriend Carmen Ejogo. On a routine mansion house burglary. he is caught by dewous millionaire Max (DeVitol. who pilfers Kevin's ring. claiming to the police that it is his. The rest of the film concerns Kevin's would-be-mz.idcap attempts to take revenge and retrieve his jewellery.

As a star vehicle for Lawrence's talents. the film stinks. Between lazy impersonations of Richard Pryor and unconVincing soft-focus romantic interludes with Ejogo. the actor adds neither Wit nor presence to a laugh-free script. Special comriiserations go to two fine actors: William Fichtner. with a (:areer-stiicide role as an eftete Jason King- style detective. and a rarely seen Glenne Headly as Max's secretary. (Simon Wardelll



(15) 110min 0.0

Deftly written. cleverly directed and nicely acted. Tom Hunsinger's modest. bitter-sweet romantic comedy makes up in ambition and inSIght what it lacks in budget. A warm-hearted ensemble piece. it centres on three very different males. all of whom are forced by the funeral of a mutual friend Stuart to rethink their past and future relationships.

Three overlapping segments. each filmed in a distinctive style. show the same tangled events from the point-of-view of the three men: Dan (Bill Nighyl. a faithful husband and loving father: restaurateur Nick (Tom Hollander). who was Stuart '5 gay lover; and the wayward Tim (Douglas Henshall). who had been the dead man's best friend before he left to travel the world.

Wry, telling humour

Shot on location in the Essex seaside town of Maldon. the film's unfamiliar locations are as refreshing as its insights into friendship. romance and commitment. Although it would have benefited from some of the melancholic intelligence that informed David Kane's similar This Year 's Love, Neil Hunter's script has plenty of wry. telling humour. The crisp photography by l‘t/onder/and lenser Sean Bobbitt also helps to keep the focus sharp. (Nigel Floyd)

I GET. Glasgow; Film/louse. Ed/nburgh; from Fri 28 Jun.

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