Thursday Night Movie Club
Hollow Man
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Release Date: August 2, 2000

Director: Paul Verhoven
Elisabeth Shue
Kevin Bacon
Josh Brolin
Kim Dickens
Greg Grunberg
Joey Slotnick
Mary Randle
William Devane
Rhona Mitra
Linda McKay
Sebastian Caine
Matthew Kensington
Sarah Kennedy
Carter Abbey
Frank Chase
Janice Walton
Dr. Howard Kramer
Sebastian's neighbor
Hollow Man poster Hollow Man poster
Hollow Man title graphic

Hollow Man is a surprisingly good thriller. I was impressed with the trailer but somehow I wasn't expecting much when I saw the movie. I was pleasantly wrong. The characters and the actors make this movie much better.

Kevin Bacon and Josh Brolin in Hollow ManThe movie is aptly titled. Kevin Bacon is Dr. Sebastian Caine, the lead scientist contracted out to solve the problem of bending light around a living creature, thus resulting in invisibility. Dr. Caine is a "hollow man", living alone. He is obsessed with solving the problem at hand. He is not concerned with its final application. He has a sign plastered to the ceiling over his home computer that says "You Should Be Working!", to remind him whenever his mind starts wandering, as it occasionally does to spy on his sexy neighbor across the courtyard. Sebastian has no social life outside of the office.

Sebastian,s romance with co-worker Dr. Linda McKay (Elizabeth Shue) has fallen apart. Linda has since fallen into the arms of co-worker Dr. Matthew Kensington (Josh Brolin). This and the above mentioned spying are the roots of the conflicts in the story.

Kevin Bacon in Hollow ManSebastian stumbles upon the solution to the "reversal" problem of counteracting invisibility in animals. The team distills the solution and tests it on a gorilla without any prior testing. This annoys veterinarian Dr. Sarah Kennedy (Kim Dickens) and the rest of the team. Since Sebastian is the project leader, the team commences to test out the serum. In an absolutely fantastic special effects scene, the gorilla is successfully returned to being visible. The question that is repeatedly brought up is "What is the effect on the psyche of the gorilla?".

Concealing the test results from the team's Pentagon backers lead by William Devane, Sebastian decides to proceed to Step 3, human testing. Sebastian also hides the fact of the Pentagon being in the dark to his team members with the exception of McKay and Kensington. As project leader, Sebastian volunteers himself as the first human subject. In one of the scientific "errors" of the movie, the test is successful. Sebastian becomes invisible. (The problem: As the gorilla becomes visible, the serum works from the inside out, starting with the point of injection. Whereas Sebastian becomes invisible from the outside in. This is good Special Effects but turning invisible should also work from the inside out. Another problem is that hair is "dead" except for the base so hair should not become invisible, unless the serum works at the genetic level.)

Problems arise when the reverse serum, "inexplicably" doesn't work on humans leaving Sebastian "permanently" invisible. Frustrated and antsy at being a cooped up lab animal (for some reason Sebastian is forbidden to work on his own problem)) Sebastian begins to wander around the lab playing pranks on his teammates. This leads to Sebastian leaving the lab to head home and make a "visit" to his sexy neighbor, dripping wet from a shower. What is left to the audience is whether Sebastian rapes the woman and also whether he kills her to protect his identity. (Another problem: Sebastian leaves the lab at night wearing a latex mask. How does he get passed security on the way back in. The latex mask would certainly be "questioned" by the security guards at the front gate.)

Elizabeth Shue and Kevin Bacon in Hollow ManWhen Sebastian spies on his team plotting go to the authorities, murder ensues. Sebastian likes what he can do when "you no longer have to look at your face in the mirror". He begins killing the Pentagon leader (Devane) and his team members. He likes his invisibility and wants to remain so.

Great special effects abound but do not subtract from the story of a "hollow man" that goes a little bit crazy. Director Paul Verhoven has crafted a suspenseful thriller without the grisly scenes of some of his other movies (RoboCop).

Another problem I had with the movie was watching for scenes from the trailer to appear in the film. This ruined the ending elevator scene. IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), trailers should not include footage from the final 30 minutes of the movie.