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Hollow Man (2000)

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Score: 4/10

Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 52 min.

Release Date: August 4th, 2000 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Paul Verhoeven Actors: Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, Mary Randle, William Devane, Rhona Mitra, Greg Grunberg, Joey Slotnick

S

ebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is the lead researcher and scientist for a secret underground military facility working on an invisibility serum. Reporting directly to the Pentagon’s Dr. Howard Kramer (William Devane), Caine has finally perfected a stable molecular configuration that will allow not only complete invisibility, but also “phase shift” reentry into the realm of visibility. He’s unwilling to let the project or the glory be taken away from him, however, and so decides to stall the government bigwigs by lying about the recent technological advancements. Instead, after several promising experiments on gorillas, he opts to test the serum on himself.

While the procedure is successful, it’s only a matter of hours before Sebastian fondles the veterinarian Dr. Sarah Kennedy (Kim Dickens), and computer tech Janice Walton (Mary Randle) becomes paranoid about using the restroom with an invisible man walking around. Later, ex-girlfriend Linda McKay (Elisabeth Shue) is plagued by nightmares of invisible-man-molestation. Sebastian’s sexually mischievous actions are entirely expected, since the film starts with a rather hilarious bit of voyeurism foreshadowing (which culminates in something much, much darker). The goofy dialogue doesn’t help make the situations more earnest, either: “Would you guys be serious, please,” insists Sarah, just before she awkwardly mimes petting an invisible ape. Eventually, Caine goes insane with power, leaving it up to his crew to physically stop his irrational behavior.

Although it’s meant to be a thriller, “Hollow Man” follows the juvenile, comedically exploitive invisibility notions of a film like “School Spirit” (technically involving a ghost) over chivalrous motives as seen in “Clash of the Titans” or “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” – living up to cliché adolescent fantasies of spying on a girls locker room. Director Paul Verhoeven (“Basic Instinct,” “Showgirls”) takes it a bit further by adding his signature touch of visual excess, opting for pulling off female undergarments and sexual assault – extremes that H.G. Wells’ classic short story basis wouldn’t have dabbled in. The “invisible man” idea isn’t new, but the graphic nature of this film is certainly a deviously curious twist.

Regardless of the marginally amusing morality issues addressed, “Hollow Man” swiftly turns into a full-fledged monster movie, with suspenseful chases, gimmicky methods of trapping and hunting, ridiculously close calls, and a rapidly increasing body count. There are also pathetic catch phrases and obligatory moments of coworkers carelessly turning their backs on Caine. The use of bloodthirsty special effects is perhaps the most noteworthy element of Verhoeven’s horror film, showcasing open wounds, grisly violence, and gruesome details, along with the invisibility graphics themselves. Exciting computer animation is utilized to demonstrate invisibility in layers, starting with the peeling away of skin, then muscles, then organs, then spidery veins, and finally bones. The result is enough for a generic sci-fi thriller, but the limitless possibilities of this technology and conceptualization are, unfortunately, never properly explored.

– Mike Massie

 



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