Hollow Man (2000)

HOLLOW MAN is grand hokum... for a while.  Kevin Bacon as a scien-
tist turned mad after turning invisible.  The arrogant bastard *al-
ready* thinks he's God, so the apparent success of the top-secret, 
military-funded experiment in "quantum synchronicity" sends him ov-
er the edge.  (Of course, it also upped the aggression of the Gor-
illa they earlier tested on.)  The notorious Paul Verhoven (SHOW-
GIRLS, STARSHIP TROOPERS) directs and he hits nearly every mark for 
a solid sixty minutes.  Heaped onto the extraordinary special ef-
fects is jaunty humor, just-bad-enough acting, a gleeful sadistic 
streak, and an adequate amount of sexual danger.  (Invisible Boy 
evolves from sexual assault to rape to murder.)  Other perfectly 
placed pieces:  a good score from Jerry Goldsmith, a way-cool lab 
set, and gobs of hilarious scientific mumbo-jumbo.  (Numerous non-
scientific exchanges are equally side-splitting.  My faves:  "Can 
we talk later, I'm trying to make love to you" and "you just lied 
to the f***** Pentagon!")  So, for about an hour, it's summer-movie 
mindlessness at its near-finest.  (The one persistent sore thumb is 
Elisabeth Shue as Bacon's character's ex-girlfriend and research 
partner.  She goes *too* far and becomes progressively unwatchable 
wearing that same, blank, deer-in-the-headlights expression in ev-
ery scene.)  

Somewhere in the second half, Verhoven's film mysteriously starts 
to flatten out.  Talk replaces tension; violence and other immoral 
acts are shelved in favor of showing more (and, admittedly, amaz-
ingly rendered) experiments.  This is the film's first big problem, 
because the intentionally cheesy plot doesn't have any inherent 
dramatic tension.  These characters aren't affecting, much less be-
lievable.  Their *actions* affect, however, provided they're out-
rageous or atrocious enough.  Like Bacon's character's grabbing a 
lab animal by the tail and slamming it up side the side of a cage.  
Verhoven, however, either cuts away too quickly (probably for MPAA 
reasons) or omits it altogether.  Thus, there's not enough consis-
tent "jolting" to keep things interesting.  Jeez, whoda thunk Paul 
Verhoven, of all people, would make a movie that was *not* over-
the-top enough?  The other big problem is the script, which stops 
being even *remotely* believable by the end.  Didn't even *one* of 
the test-screenings suggest retakes, at least to add dialogue ex-
plaining the sudden appearance of super-healing healing powers, al-
lowing the various characters to survive fire, ice, abdominal trau-
ma, and exploding laboratories?  Oy.  See with a scientist for ad- 
ded effect.  (Rated "R"/114 min.)
Grade: C+

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros                    

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Paul Verhoven Plays it Safe

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros