Promising thriller until deplorable behavior and ferocious violence put the audience in a familiar storyline that doesn’t deserve the amazing special effects produced by Scott E. Anderson, Casey Cannon, and their talented crews. “Hollow Man” begins with a nifty ‘alphabet soup’ sequence for the opening credits as you are introduced to a special scientific team and their quest to alter the molecular structure of living beings. Lead character Dr. Sebastian Caine, played by Kevin Bacon pines for fellow scientist Linda Foster, played by Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas) while antagonizing his team members including Matt Kensington, (Josh Brolin) and Sarah (Kim Dickens). William Devane (Payback, TV’s Knots Landing) also factors in as Dr. Howard Kramer who oversees this government-funded project.
The beginning scenes lay some important groundwork for the events that effect every member of the team. Sebastian demonstrates a good conscience at first, but foreshadows future deviant events with some practical jokes (the crude superhero joke should amuse you depending on your style of humor) and odd comments. When given the opportunity to speed up their research, Sebastian says, “there’s never gonna be a right time,” as he jumps at the chance to discover the process for making people invisible.
This arrogant man feels his life means nothing until he entertains thoughts of an invisible lifestyle where he can act on all of his impulses without consequences. These impulses trigger the story’s descent into an abysmal world of sexual deviance and death. Sebastian lacks the self-control of his basic, animal-like sexual impulses as he starts to do what he thinks about. A logical process but did the producers consider if such a morbid journey would appeal to an audience? It’s such a waste to limit the possible creative directions of an invisible character to such obvious, “peeping tom” scenarios.
Hollow Man would not have found solid success at the box office without the special effects and the sci-fi elements of invisibility. It would just be a darker progression of sexual themes explored in director Paul Verhoeven’s previous film, Basic Instinct. Shue gets top billing in this movie, but gets stuck in a one-dimensional role as the love interest/heroine/sex object.
“Don’t even think about it…who’s gonna know,” Sebastian says to himself as he’s tempted to make an unwelcome visit to his female neighbor played by Rhona Mitra (Get Carter, TV’s Gideon Crossing) and was the original model for Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider game. Later, Sebastian jokes about this warped encounter to one of his colleagues and the moviemakers seem to be protecting themselves by not explaining the end result leaving the answer to an open-ended question for the audience. Did he commit a horrible act or didn’t he? Unfortunately, Sebastian continues down this path of deplorable behavior as he acts on his impulses with delight.
The film ends in a familiar, and over drawn battle between good and evil. You can try to justify Sebastian’s actions by citing the mental strain from his quarantine status and the constant tests, but he should have thought of the consequences of his actions and controlled his “power trip” urges.
Verhoeven (Starship Troopers, Robocop) uses some great camera shots from Caine’s point of view to modernize the “Jekyll and Hyde” concept as he shows the depressing metamorphosis of Dr. Sebastian Caine. The Oscar worthy special effects are simply amazing and represent the strongest, most emotional aspect of the movie. Still, this reviewer can not recommend Hollow Man (*1/2 stars out of four), which is rated R for subject matter, nudity, gore, and various violent acts and has a run time of 112 minutes.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler