Pros: Interesting idea for the plot. Impressive effects.
Cons: Failed execution of the plot.
I have seen several movies that I thought had really interesting ideas for the plots. Unfortunately, many of those movies failed to live up to the potential of the interesting plots and ended up being mediocre at best. Hollow Man is one of the movies that I thought had some potential that failed to reach it.
A group of scientists was working on top secret research to develop a way to make people invisible. The Pentagon was interested in the research for military applications. They’d had success with making animals invisible, but they were having problems with reversing the process. The animals became more agitated and showed signs of aggression the longer they were invisible. Sebastian Caine, the man in charge of the project, figured out the problem and they were able to successfully reverse the process.
Linda McKay and Matthew Kensington were shocked when Sebastian told the committee that they hadn’t fixed the problem yet. Sebastian wanted to remain in control of the project and didn’t want the committee knowing yet. He also wanted to move on to human testing without approval and he managed to convince Linda and Matthew to go along with it. Sebastian was the test subject since he was determined to be the first human to be invisible. Things went fine with all the testing, but the reversion failed to work. Linda and Matthew were working to find a way to make it work while Sebastian grew increasingly more agitated and hostile while also enjoying what he saw as power and freedom.
I believe that Hollow Man was at least somewhat inspired by the book The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. I haven’t read the book, but I know a little about the plot. Based on what I know, it does seem like this movie shares certain plot elements with the book.
I felt that the idea of a person being made invisible was an interesting idea for the plot. That ability has all sorts of implications, which was why the government was so interested in it. Sebastian seemed to be involved in the project just for the fame it would bring him. That was a big reason why he was determined to go ahead with human testing using himself as the test subject. The possibility that someone could use the ability to commit crimes was briefly mentioned a few times without that being fully explored. Sebastian did little things to mess with the other scientists almost immediately and he progressed to doing other things as he was invisible longer. It briefly seemed like the movie was going to explore those ideas more when Sebastian managed to leave the lab, but that went nowhere. Instead the movie turned into a generic slasher type of movie that spiraled further into absurdity.
When I watched Hollow Man again, it did seem to me like there were some elements of the movie that would also fit in a movie based on a comic book. Not that I think Sebastian was any sort of hero, but he did somewhat seem to be like a superhero villain. He was an egotistical scientist who willingly experimented on himself. He was after more power and fame even before he became invisible. He wasn’t exactly stable to begin with in my opinion, and he just got worse as the movie continued, like has happened with many villains in different comic book movies. There was even a reference to Superman and Wonder Woman when Sebastian told a dirty joke involving them.
Sebastian, Linda, and Matthew were some kind of scientists and Sarah was a vet. I’m not sure if the others working on the project were actual scientists or not. There was a lot of scientific stuff brought up in Hollow Man and some of the testing was shown. The fact that the government was funding the project made sense since it is completely believable that they would want to use it for military applications. The research seemed believable enough even though it didn’t make a lot of sense. Special effects were used throughout the movie. Probably the most impressive use of the effects was when Isabelle the gorilla was brought back from being invisible and when Sebastian went invisible. There were some fights featuring Sebastian that were mildly entertaining. This isn’t what I would call an action packed movie. The action that was in the movie was a bit lame since it mostly involved people staring at walls since they couldn’t see Sebastian. There was some violence as well as a few things that were a bit disturbing to see. The movie deserved the R rating and is not something for children to see.
Linda had been involved with Sebastian sometime before Hollow Man started and their relationship had fallen apart. Sebastian’s obsession with his work and ego seemed to have been the reason why the relationship fell apart. They were still able to work together fairly well. Sebastian wasn’t happy when he found out that Linda had a new man in her life. Even before he knew who it was, Sebastian was having some jealousy and started acting like he wanted her back. Linda knew that Sebastian had some issues, which was why she wanted to keep the fact that she was involved with Matt a secret. The two of them were shown in a few sexual situations that didn’t go anywhere and didn’t show much of anything. There was some nudity in a few other scenes when Sebastian used his invisibility around a few women. Bare breasts were shown in those scenes. Sebastian was naked when he underwent the procedure to become invisible, and his bare backside was shown more than once.
Sebastian was a very arrogant, egotistical jerk who wasn’t likable at all. It didn’t seem like any of the others working him liked him that much. He liked to be in control, which was why he kept the truth about the developments with the research from the committee. I did think Kevin Bacon handled the part well even though he couldn’t be seen for much of the movie. Sarah was the vet working on the project who didn’t like Sebastian. She really didn’t have any other development and I did wonder why she was involved on the testing on Sebastian since she wasn’t an actual doctor. Kim Dickens wasn’t anything special in the part.
Linda seemed to be the second in command of the project and she was making some decisions once Sebastian was invisible. She was nice enough without there being anything that special to the character. She didn’t seem that smart at times, though maybe that was because of the way Elisabeth Shue portrayed the character. This wasn’t one of her better performances. Matt was also working on the study. He was another character that was nice enough without being that interesting. Josh Brolin has done much better, like in No Country for Old Men. The others working on the research were even less developed and just seemed to be there.
Kevin Bacon - Sebastian Caine
Josh Brolin - Matthew Kensington
Kim Dickens - Sarah
Elisabeth Shue - Linda McKay
Paul Verhoeven - Director
Hollow Man was actually one of the first movies I rented on DVD. I think there is a widescreen and full screen version available. There were several extras on the DVD I rented connected to the making of the movie that were mildly interesting and a few deleted scenes.
Hollow Man had an interesting idea that wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. I do find the movie mildly entertaining, though I see more of the problems with the movie now than I did when I first saw it. Fans of the cast might find something enjoyable or entertaining about the movie.
This movie is part of elvisdo’s 2008 Funny Pages Write-Off because of the reference to Superman and Wonder Woman.
Kevin Bacon Movie Reviews
Death Sentence ~ Flatliners ~ Mystic River ~ Tremors ~ Where the Truth Lies ~