Dir: Paul Verhoeven. US. 2000. 114 mins.
Prod co: Columbia Pictures. Worldwide dist: Columbia/Columbia TriStar. Exec prod: Marion Rosenberg. Prod: Alan Marshall, Douglas Wick. Scr: Andrew W Marlowe, based on a story by Gary Scott Thompson & Andrew W Marlowe. DoP: Jost Vacano. Prod des: Allan Cameron. Ed: Mark Goldblatt. Mus: Jerry Goldsmith. Main cast: Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, William Devane, Greg Grunberg, Joey Slotnick.
Paul Verhoeven delivers another giant B movie with Hollow Man, an enjoyably cheesy sci-fi cum horror flick which should be a hefty midsummer hit at the worldwide box office. The man behind Showgirls and Starship Troopers piles on sex, violence and the f-word with abandon which will limit the film to adult audiences - a fact which may work to its advantage since kids will break every rule to see it and adults will find it refreshing in a season of family-friendly blandness.
As is now customary in a Verhoeven film, the dialogue is excruciating and the characters strictly two-dimensional - a shame considering the clever premise and incredible special effects work supervised by Scott E Anderson and Tippett Studio.
Kevin Bacon plays Sebastian Caine, an arrogant scientific genius heading a team (including his ex girlfriend Elisabeth Shue) which is experimenting with an invisibility drug. When Caine cracks the reversion process, he goes behind the Pentagon's back and acts as a human guinea pig to test it. However, once invisible, he and his team are unable to 'revert' him back to visible form and the drug makes him first unstable [his first instinct on becoming invisible is to rape a neighbour] and then murderous. Shue and her colleagues are trapped with him in the underground lab.
Assisted by a Jerry Goldsmith score sounding remarkably like Basic Instinct, Verhoeven capably builds tension to fever pitch although the finale falls onto formulaic ground straight out of Alien with Shue as the Ripley-esque female ass-kicker. By trapping the invisible man in a confined space for much of the film, he misses opportunities to investigate further how Caine would behave in the real world.