Stars: 3.5 of 5.
Running Time: 112 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Shue, Kim Dickens (DEADWOOD, ZERO EFFECT), William Devane (ROLLING THUNDER, FAMILY PLOT), Greg Grunberg (the pilot from the pilot of LOST, STAR TREK '09). Music by Jerry Goldsmith (POLTERGEIST, FIRST BLOOD). Edited by Mark Goldblatt (THE TERMINATOR, ENTER THE NINJA, COMMANDO). Cinematography by Jost Vacano (ROBOCOP, TOTAL RECALL, UNTAMED HEART).
Tag-line: "What would you do if you knew you couldn't be seen?"
Best one-liner: "You think you're God? I'll show you God!"
Paul Verhoeven continues to give America the movies they really deserve, but sometimes he gives a little too hard. Is HOLLOW MAN a good movie? Well... no. But I enjoyed it in a certain "Verhoeven declares war on popular culture" kind of spirit. The bad CGI is a bitter pill to swallow, but it's in service to a story which defines us as voyeuristic, misogynistic, 7-11 Big Gulp-swilling, murderous swine.
The Big Gulp in question.
And, as something of a merry misanthrope, I like it just fine. So while it doesn't possess the potent artistry of SOLDIER OF ORANGE or FLESH + BLOOD, the sheer watchability of TOTAL RECALL or ROBOCOP, or the unbridled camp value of SHOWGIRLS, here are a few reasons why HOLLOW MAN deserves to be seen both by aficionados of spit-takes and the spandex stylings of one Mr. Slim Goodbody.
#1. Seriously, though. SLIM GOODBODY.
I can't be the only one who was shown these videos in elementary school, sitting uncomfortably on the floor of the cafeteria while the teacher fiddled with the VCR tracking to finally reveal a man in a semi-anatomically correct spandex suit surrounded by a phalanx of puppets worthy of THE LETTER PEOPLE spouting inanities that were tangentially related to nutritional health. Anyway, it was nice to see a big-budget, feature film devoted to his work.
Also- is it a coincidence that both feature a formless, eyeless latex/felt monstrosity?
Pay no attention to the racist, anthropomorphic reel-to-reel player on the right.
Also, I am 100% certain that this was the inspiration for BODIES...The Exhibition, which is frankly amazing.
#2. Alright, so the latex face is actually pretty scary.
It's one of the few things about this film that is genuinely effective, but after an hour and a half of screentime, you're completely desensitized. Ah, well.
#3. "See...you...later ...(FACE)."
Probably the greatest words ever uttered by an about-to-be invisible man... to himself. Bacon really sells it, too. And as a side note- is it any wonder that Christian Slater got the gig for HOLLOW MAN 2?
Bacon nods approvingly upon learning that Slater will star in the straight-to-video sequel.
#4. William Devane. I was surprised to see him pop up in this. I'm a big Devane fan, from his commandingly low-key psychotic war vet in ROLLING THUNDER to his nefarious dandy-type in FAMILY PLOT to his G-man crony in MARATHON MAN.
It's nice to see he's still getting genre work and showing up in films like this, PAYBACK, and even on TV's 24. As always, he excels at playing a government sleaze who still possesses tangible pathos.
#5. The beautiful, likable, and talented Kim Dickens ('Joanie Stubbs' on TV's DEADWOOD), again subject to the mercies of a hideous haircut which threatens to consume our attentions, like some impossible fusion of 'Klute' and THE BLOB.
How bizarre that a system devoted to the objectification of women seems hellbent on subverting the aesthetic impact of Kim Dickens via awful haircuttery- (Even LOST did it, too.) -will wonders never cease? Regardless, she rises above the haircut and the role, even though her major plot point involves invisible man nipple-tweaking. Which leads us to–
#6. Finally a movie which tackles such high-concept wonders as invisible man nipple tweaking, invisible man puke, and invisible man bathroom peeping. Perhaps Verhoeven's greatest coup is amassing $95 million for a movie about an invisible man, and then devoting to fetishistic degeneracy, heavy-duty perversions, and ultimately rape and murder! Between this and SHOWGIRLS, though, it's little wonder that he hasn't worked in Hollywood since.
#7. Josh Brolin saved by a trashcan fire.
And here I thought I'd never see anybody saved by a trashcan fire this side of STREET TRASH. Who knew?
#8. A surprisingly evocative and foreboding score courtesy of Jerry Goldsmith. Not surprising in that it came from Jerry Goldsmith, just surprising in that it accompanies HOLLOW MAN.
Technically, it's only thermal imaging, but after its rampant overuse in PREDATOR 2, I have no choice but to call it PREDATOR-VISION. Also, Mark Goldblatt edited both HOLLOW MAN and PREDATOR 2. Coincidence?- or predilection for PREDATOR-VISION?
#10. "You think you're God, I'll show you God, FOOOOOOSH"
I'll keep this as vague as possible, plotwise, but I have to say this is the greatest one-liner to accompany a flamethrower attack since ACTION JACKSON's "How ya like your ribs?....FOOOOOOOSH."
In the end, Verhoeven crafts a film which is big, dumb, kinda fun, and intent on rubbing the faces of theatergoers in their own depravities. Obviously he better serves the world through his art films (TURKISH DELIGHT, BLACK BOOK, et al.) and his scholarly ruminations (JESUS OF NAZARETH), so I can't realllly recommend this, but I can think of far worse ways to waste 112 minutes. Three and a half stars.