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Hollow Man (2000)
Director: Paul Verhoeven
review by Peter Schilling
"It's amazing what you can do when you don't have to look at yourself in the mirror anymore," says Kevin Bacon's maniacal scientist, threateningly, in this millennial update of the science fictional 'Invisible Man' theme. The witty title is a pun - not just on the quantum shifted mad doctor's latex-wrapped head (at one point a bedside light glows magically through his ersatz flesh to reveal the space 'inside' his skull) but also refers to the psychological emptiness of all-consuming obsession, paranoid delusions and egomania that turn Bacon's character into a grim parody of skin-deep humanity.
Following the variously praised/panned RoboCop, Total Recall, and Starship Troopers, this latest Paul Verhoeven offering appears to be a cross-genre link between that set of ultra-violent action adventures and the director's absurdly hyper-charged erotic thrillers, Basic Instinct and Showgirls. No, really! There's a hi-tech glamour to the secret underground lab sets that acts as a stage for Bacon's infrared-scanned nudity, while several voyeuristic acts and indecent assaults (real and imagined), ensure this gets an adult rating - as much for its sexual content as the savage violence.
The increasingly demented antics of Dr Sebastian Caine (Bacon) in relentless pursuit of his former lover Linda McKay (played by the talented Elizabeth Shue) leave us in no doubt that he's a doomed super-villain. It's simply a case of how many of his concerned then fearful team of colleagues he can stalk and kill before eventually making the fatal mistake of underestimating the resourceful heroine.
previously published online, VideoVista #26 - May 2001
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