Rated R - Running Time: 1:54 - Released 8/4/00

At some point or another, every young boy (I can't speak for girls) has fantasized about being invisible, primarily for the purpose of hiding in the girls' dressing (or locker) room and witnessing the inexplicable delight of...girls undressing. The practical applications of invisibility have never been explored beyond this pre-pubescent fantasy, mainly because as one matures, one comes to realize the physical impossibility of such a concept. Darn it. Unfortunately, that realization has escaped the producers of Hollow Man, and so the script (by Gary Scott Thompson and Andrew W. Marlowe) and direction (by Paul Verhoeven) never rise above that immature viewpoint, either. Even a capable actor like Kevin Bacon is embarrassingly unable to salvage any credibility from this text, and although he is invisible for most of the movie, there are a few scenes where the poor guy's face is recognizable. Hollow Man is stupid beyond all formerly held definitions of stupidity, but, as with so many films concocted around the possibility of interesting digital effects, its visuals save it from being a complete waste of time. A waste of money, yes.

Dr. Sebastian Caine (Bacon) is a genius scientist who, along with his crew, has been conducting a top secret experiment contracted by the pentagon: an injection designed to turn people invisible.There is little question why the military would want such a thing; just think how much more fun Tailhook would be, for starters. Sebastian's crew includes his old girlfriend, Linda McKay (Elisabeth Shue), her new boyfriend, Matt Kensington (Josh Brolin), "the best veterinarian in the country" (Kim Dickens), and a few other scientists who are involved because of the obvious locker-room-viewing potential. After the "bio-quantum phase shift" process is ready, Sebastian decides to be the first human guinea pig. Sure enough, he is soon transparent, and suddenly his scientific ethic devolves into scaring kids and raping women. But when the process for returning him to visibility fails, the fun's over, and after 10 days, Sebastian begins to get tired of hanging out in the bathroom watching for panties. Finally, Linda and Matt decide to admit to their superior, Dr. Howard Kramer (William Devane) that the mission has failed. But Sebastian knows what that will do to his career, so he decides to maintain his professional standing by killing everyone. Talk about Dr. Evil.

Apart from inexplicable character changes, howlingly bad dialogue, and the various physical impossibilities of the script, director Verhoeven (Starship Troopers) seems to rely on violence and style-copying to save a film that's gone off track. The final half hour resembles a run-of-the-mill slasher film more than a sci-fi adventure, and much of the action is lifted almost directly from Alien.

Let's face it, folks: invisibility is impossible. We're just going to have to keep putting mirrors on the tops of our shoes until something better comes along.

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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