Hollow Man [2000]

Director: Claudio Fäh
Stars: Christian Slater, Peter Facinelli, Laura Regan, David McIlwraith, William MacDonald
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 91 minutes

In Paul Verhoeven's appropriately shallow Hollow Man, Kevin Bacon plays a bad-boy egotistical scientist who heads up a double-secret government team experimenting with turning life-forms invisible. How do we know he's a bad boy? Because he (a) wears a leather overcoat, (b) compares himself to God, (c) drives a sports car, and (d) spies on his comely next-door neighbor while eating Twinkies. Sadly, this is the most character development anyone gets in this undernourished action/sci-fi thriller, which boasts some amazing special effects and some amazingly ridiculous plot twists. After experimenting rather ruthlessly on a menagerie of lab animals, Bacon finally cracks the code that will turn the invisible gorillas, dogs, and so on, back into their visible forms. Does it work on humans? Faster than you can say "six degrees," Mr. Bacon appoints himself human guinea pig, strapping down for an injection of fluorescent-colored serum. Thanks to some phenomenal, seamless and Oscar-worthy computer effects, Bacon is indeed rendered invisible, organ by organ, vein by vein. And what's the first thing you'd do if you were invisible? Why, spy on your female coworkers in the bathroom and molest your comely next-door neighbor, of course! Soon, Bacon is thoroughly psychotic, and it's up to Elisabeth Shue (Bacon's coworker and ex-girlfriend) and hunky Josh Brolin (her current snuggle bunny) to defeat the invisible man, who's picking off the science team one by one. You'd think this would be a prime opportunity for copious amounts of cheesy sex and aggressive violence--which Verhoeven served up so well and so exuberantly in Starship Troopers and Basic Instinct--but if anything, the director seems to tone down the proceedings, and really, who wants a muted Paul Verhoeven movie? Shue (who got top billing and a bad haircut to boot) and Brolin (who, yes, does take off his shirt at least once) generate little heat, and while Bacon does give an effective, primarily voice-oriented performance, his character is so underdeveloped that, well, you can see right through him. --Mark Englehart

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