Did you know that Hollow Man was directed by Paul Verhoeven? This new information, discovered via Wikipedia during an ad break, has definitely changed how I view it so it seemed reasonable to finally review it.
Originally released in 2000, and father to a terrible looking straight-to-DVD sequel, Hollow Man has quite the cast. Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, and Josh Brolin form the core of the story as they secretly work on a means to turn man invisible. You can probably guess how well that pans out.
The effects involved in making Bacon’s Sebastian see through are impressive. It’s a shame such impressive (especially for the time) effects are wasted on a story that doesn’t have the same finesse. The whole thing hinges on Sebastian’s transition from douchey scientist to murderer. But as he’s already unlikeable, there’s nothing to get hold of. No big shift. Giving a person with already sleazy tendencies the ability to do it even more is hardly the most riveting story.
It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have to look at yourself in the mirror anymore.Sebastian Shaw
Bacon does well with the what he’s given to be fair, and I particularly like that quote. But there is so much stupidity. Starting out as some sort of science-thriller, once old Seb makes his small step over into murder and rape things quickly devolve into ridiculous slasher/horror territory.
As a film, Hollow Man is obvious and lazy but entertaining enough. But this is a Paul Verhoeven film, and I expect a hell of a lot more. This is the guy who directed Robocop and Starship Troopers! Extremely violent and satirical swipes. Full of quotes and performances and visuals. All round great pieces of cinema. So, what happened here? I read that he wanted to try a “conventionally commercial blockbuster”. On this evidence it’s not for him.
The premise is wasted on irredeemable characters and grotesquely stupid decisions. Let’s split up and not keep an eye on each other correctly as we tick the horror cliché boxes. The thermal imaging goggles look dopey too. Hollow Man? More like hollow brains. As ‘just another film’ Hollow Man is entertaining enough, but I expect more from Verhoeven.