A Paul Verhoeven
film, easily one of the worst major motion pictures
of the year. Although it masks itself as an update of the old "Invisible Man
" idea, the picture is, in reality, nothing more than a vehicle
for 90s-quality special effects. To the actors, the only motivation
for doing this film (other than the obvious paycheck
) was lowering their Bacon numbers
The plot is well-defined, if poorly written. Sebastian Caine (played by Kevin Bacon, not the best nor the first choice for the role) is a stereotypical genius, a slighty-mad-at-the-world loser who has discovered the secret to human invisiblity. The other characters treat him like he has charisma, yet I could not detect any.
He is surrounded by an equally soulless research team, including Linda McKay (Elisabeth Shue), Caine's perpetually horny ex-girlfriend. Watch for the scene that gets played out a dozen times: Caine makes advances. Linda stares at him blankly. He moves closer. She seems to be receptive. He tries to embrace her. Disgusted, she makes a comment about how lousy he is and how much better her new boyfriend is. Love scene over. I've seen higher drama in ant farms.
Unbeknownest to Caine, Linda's new love interest is fellow researcher Matthew Kensington, played by pretty face Josh Brolin. Unlike some characters you may have seen in other movies, Matthew has no personality whatsoever. He's supposed to be the lead male "good guy", but I found him to be an unlikable jerk.
I've noticed that movies such as this tend to have one nerdy "science guy" who has no purpose except to dispense nonsensical mumbo-jumbo and hack into security systems. This character is generally either fat and greasy, Jewish and skinny, or balding and Brent Spiner-like. The writers chose option three and Joey Slotnick (Woz in Pirates of Silicon Valley) was cast as expendable science dork Frank Chase. I can't really judge this character, as I was unable to get over the fact that he was the friend from "The Single Guy."
Kim Dickens plays Sarah Kennedy, a rather bitchy veterinarian who at times is the moral voice of the film. In practice, she's just more groping fodder for the invisible Kevin Bacon.
The rest of the characters could be replaced by cardboard cutouts without harming the film.
Near the beginning, the scientists notice that an invisible gorilla is growing more and more aggressive as a result of the experimentation. I knew very little about this film before viewing, yet I was able to extrapolate the entire plot with a high degree of accuracy thanks to that lame piece of foreshadowing. There are many intruguing aspects of the "Invisble Man" scenario which I would like to see adequately captured on film. This flick touches on a few half-ideas near the beginning, especially concerning voyeurism and the arrogrance of seeing oneself as a god. Unfortunately, all of these glimmers of hope in this dull morass fade away halfway through the film, as Hollow Man turns into nothing more than a medium-budget monster movie. The director should have spent more time examining what makes the Invisible Man different than a Godzilla or an Alien, and less time trying to figure out stupid ways to make his invisible character partially visible using special effects.
Which brings me to my last point. For an invisible character, Caine is visible way too often. Whether it's because of water, steam, fire, blood, night-vision goggles, or a stupidly scary costume, you can see the (near-immortal) Invisible Man almost all the time. Because the movie would be scarier if he were completely invisible, I can only conclude that someone important in the pipeline requested lots of "cool special effects". To find true invisiblity in this film, I suggest simply looking for the acting.