Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, William Devane
Director: Paul Verhoeven
The box office re-immergence of Kevin Bacon is a welcome one for those of us who fondly recall his success of the eighties and early ninties. “Stir of Echoes” put him firmly back on the map last year, and he remains in the world of weirdness in director, Paul Verhoeven’s new sci-fi/horror vehicle, “Hollow Man”.
Sebastian Caine (Bacon) is the eccentric lead scientist appointed by the American government to discover a serum that can induce invisibility. With the assistance of his team, including former girlfriend, Linda McKay (Shue – “Leaving Las Vegas”) and Matthew Kensington (Brolin), they successfully test the serum on animals, bringing a gorilla to an invisible form and back again. But when it comes to revealing the success to the Pentagon, Caine decides to withold the news and instead insists on kicking off phase 3 of the project without official authorisation – the use of the serum on a human subject.
Bitter over the loss of the girlfriend he still loves, Caine recklessly offers himself as the human guineau pig. But while they are able to make him invisible, it is found that they cannot return him and Caine is forced to remain invisible while McKay and the rest of the team search for answers. Meanwhile, Caine’s personality becomes more vicious and twisted as he becomes frustrated, before he finds himself blinded by the power being invisible gives him. The only way to remain invisible and live this life, is to ensure that all those who know don’t tell anyone.
Few people probably had high hopes for “Hollow Man”, but even so it’s a disappointment. The typical sci-fi storyline of ‘experiment gone wrong/experiment kills everyone’ has been seen recently in “Deep Blue Sea”, and even with the human element thrown in, “Hollow Man” fails to live up to that moderate landmark. The Predator-style special-effects are cool enough, indeed the special effects are wonderful throughout the movie, but there is just little tension to supplement it.
Caine’s character is portrayed quite well by Bacon, as he does that ‘on the edge’ persona that he showed us he is capable of in “Stir of Echoes”. He declares that he is “God” (a nod towards Alec Baldwin’s non-God-fearing character in “Malice”), and ensures that everyone knows he is considered a genius in professional circles. But the weakest chink in his armour is his obvious affection for his colleague and former girlfriend, McKay. She is involved in a secret relationship with Josh Brolin’s character (doesn’t Brolin remind you of a young Pierce Brosnan?) and when this fact becomes apparent to Caine, this pushes the invisible man over the edge. The supporting cast are moderate at best. Shue plays things by numbers…a hugely talented actress who deserves better. Brolin seems a bit generic despite his physical similarity to Remington Steele, and the rest of the cast have fallen off the Acting Mediocrity Conveyor Belt.
Verhoeven spices things up with some good action scenes, a slight splattering of lust and some decent violence, but it’s the effects that really eclipse any of the camera work and make it look very average overall. The DVD version contains the usual scene selection, commentaries and behind-the-scenes features. The picture and sound were reasonable but didn’t enhance the movie all that much to be honest.