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With: Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Joey Slotnick, Mary Randle, William Devane, Rhona Mitra, Pablo Espinosa
Written by: Andrew W. Marlowe, based on a story by Andrew W. Marlowe, Gary Scott Thompson
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Running Time: 112
Date: 08/02/2000

Hollow Man (2000)

1 Star (out of 4)

The Movie That Wasn't There

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Hollow Man starts off with some bad dialogue, copied from a thousand bad movies and a thousand bad TV shows. But we hold on, thinking that maybe it will get better. After all, the director is Paul Verhoeven, who made Robocop (1987), Total Recall (1990), and Starship Troopers (1997). He has a knack for this kind of movie. But it doesn't get better. It keeps getting worse, until the last fifteen minutes disintigrates into the worst kind of Friday the 13th ripoff imaginable. And then we're reminded that Verhoeven also directed Showgirls (1995), one of the worst movies ever made. Hollow Man ranks near it.

Hollow Man is another way of saying "invisible man." Kevin Bacon plays a brilliant scientist, flanked by a crew of more brilliant scientists, played by Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, and others. The women on the team are large-chested and wear tight sweaters. The men on the team are geeky, listen to Walkmans and read nudie magazines. They all work in a secret underground laboratory (where else?). They've perfected turning gorillas invisible, but are having trouble turning them back. A brief success in this endeavor leads Bacon to volunteer, but he's unable to return to normal. After that he just goes on a killing spree while all of our brilliant scientists suddenly turn incredibly stupid.

This is another of those movies that, even while the main story and characters are stupid, the small details and subplots are just as stupid. At one point, the scientists discuss the uses for the invisibility formula and how dangerous it could potentially be. They've apparently been there for four years and have never thought about this until now. Plus they never discuss why they're working on it in the first place. As for the effects of the formula, it is revealed that Bacon can't shut his eyelids. Or rather, he can, but he can see right through them. No other effects are discussed. It would have been interesting to know if light reflects off his retina, or if he can still walk normally, not being able to see his feet. But the movie is more interested in turning Bacon into a dumb monster than exploring any real possibilities.

As for the special effects, the invisible stuff looks about as good as any other "invisible man" movie, John Carpenter's Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), for example. Though this one tries to raise the bar by showing the outline of Bacon through water, smoke, and other elements, he always looks like a CGI man, not too different from the Dancing Baby on Ally McBeal.

Basically this is an update of James Whale's brilliant 1933 classic The Invisible Man with Claude Rains. That movie was smart enough to focus on the so-called secondary characters, so that when the invisible man turns bad, we have someone to root for. When this new invisible man, played by Kevin Bacon, goes bad, we're left with a second-rate bunch of nothing characters that we couldn't give two hoots about. The movie tries to develop a love triangle between Shue, Brolin, and Bacon, but we don't have a stake in who Shue should end up with. Brolin is not sympathetic at all. He comes across as a jock and a girlfriend thief. Plus he's stupid. While sneaking around having sex behind Bacon's back, Bacon shatters the window of their bedroom. Apparently they've forgotten that Bacon is invisible, because Brolin goes to the window, looks around and says, "I don't see anything."

This brilliant bit of poetry was written by Andrew W. Marlowe, who joins the list of "how did they get this job?" screenwriters in Hollywood for this and last year's horrendous End of Days. As for Verhoeven, well I'm convinced that he's sold his soul. He doesn't seem capable of what he once was, with films like Flesh + Blood (1985) and Robocop. Hollow Mandoesn't represent a shred of what would pass for decent filmmaking.

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