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Hollow Man

Director:Paul Verhoeven
Writer:Andrew Marlowe
Columbia Pictures; R; 114 minutes
Release:8/00
Cast:Elisabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin

Imagine what would happen if nobody could see you and you never had to face yourself in the mirror...the situation could quickly turn as shameless and frightening as a Hollywood special effects budget. Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is an egotistical hotshot who leads a crew of scientists developing invisibility technology. Pushed by Pentagon officials for faster results, he opts to be the first human subject. One of the first things Sebastian does after turning invisible is fondle the breasts of a veterinarian. It's that kind of movie. Dutch director Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Basic Instinct, Total Recall) straddles the line between tasteless and gripping, often at the same time. Linda (Elisabeth Shue) is Sebastian's co-worker and ex-lover. By extension, she's also his primary target. The climax degenerates into a conventional "let's kill the superman/robot/alien in the poorly lit subterranean chambers" sequence.

Hollow Man is probably correct about it's primary thesis: invisibility would turn any man into a voyeuristic creep pretty quickly. The problem is that Sebastian is a voyeuristic creep to begin with, so when he starts battering up innocent animals and raping his neighbor, Verhoeven's shock tactics lacking dramatic meat.

The special effects are the real stars of the film, however, and Hollow Man plays them to the hilt. Particularly grotesque and captivating is the visibility-invisibility process, whereby a creature disappears one slow layer of skin and bone at a time. Like most of the yucky moments in this film, the director revels in it.