Hollow Man

2000, Movie, R, 114 mins


This mean-spirited invisible man movie tries to hide its poverty of fresh ideas behind a load of state-of-the-art special effects. Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) heads a top-secret, Pentagon-financed project charged with making people vanish from sight, the better to creep around doing nasty things in broad daylight. His team includes Linda McKay (Elisabeth Shue) and Matthew Kensington (Josh Brolin); Linda is Sebastian's ex and Matthew is her new squeeze, a situation they've scrupulously kept secret from the volatile Sebastian. If he weren't the team leader, there's no way megalomaniacal, paranoid and ruthlessly self-serving Sebastian would get to sample a potion that might have psychological side effects. But he's the boss, so now you see him, now you don't, and between the drug and the heady freedom invisibility confers, his behavior quickly gets very ugly. "It's amazing what you can do when you don't have to look at yourself in the mirror anymore," Sebastian observes in a rare moment of introspection. Discovering that Linda and Matthew have been carrying on behind his back pushes him over the edge; he decides the whole team must be conspiring against him, and you know that can't be good. James Whale's 1933 INVISIBLE MAN covered pretty much the same psychological ground; all this movie adds is a certain prurience that seems to have been toned down rather late in the game. Why write a distasteful invisible rapist scene if you aren't going to go the full exploitative distance? The effects — which are flashy without being especially interesting — can't take up the slack for a script that quickly degenerates into a cheap reprise of ALIEN. Viewers have way too much time to ask inconvenient questions, like, what's the strategic military advantage of invisibility when heat-sensitive goggles and film pick up invisible beings as clear as day? leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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