The year is 2018. There is no crime. There is no war. The corporations finally took over and became the governments of the world. Houston of course deals with energy. The other cities of what once was America are now involved with usually just one main marketable item. Chicago is food and so on.
One of the main executives who runs Houston is Mr. Bartholomew (John Houseman). Now Bartholomew has just told Jonathan E (James Caan) that the corporation wants him to retire. What you don't know is, who is Jonathan E. He is the man in the Rollerball circuit. He has been the top performer in the game that took over fighting wars. Rollerball is similar to roller derby but with far deadlier results.
Corporations took over a few years back and those who were executives became the elite. The workers simply do what they are told. Women are simply in some cases like furniture. If you are an executive and have shown that you can be of some service then you are rewarded with a woman. A women who will do what you want. As in Jonathon's case he had Ella (Maud Adams) but he got tired of her and simply had her replaced.
Back to Rollerball and Jonathan, the reason the exec's want him out is he has become too much of a hero for the working class and also for some exec's. The heads of the corporations can't afford to have competition. Rollerball is such a violent sport that the world takes out it's anger and frustrations through the game. Take for instance, Moonpie (John Beck), he is the teammate of Jonathan's, and he is simply a head hunter. His job in the games is to protect Jonathan and to hurt members of the other team.
Problem is Jonathan is at the top of his game and doesn't want to retire. He tries to buck the system and the corporation doesn't like it. This movie is not so far fetched. Right now at 2013 our big corporations do actually run some countries. Oh they have a figure head government but in the end it is what will help the company or corporation that makes the rules.
Director Norman Jewison does an excellent job of bringing what at one time was the future but now when you watch it you might think that we have actually come to this point in our history. This is an eye opening movie that any person may want to watch only to look for the signs that this may be what we are faced with in a short time. Enjoy the present.