Soon, Bacon is thoroughly psychotic, and it's up to Elisabeth Shue (Bacon's co-worker and ex-girlfriend) and hunky Josh Brolin (her current snuggle bunny) to defeat the invisible man, who's picking off the science team one by one. You'd think this would be a prime opportunity for copious amounts of cheesy sex and aggressive violence--which Verhoeven served up so well and so exuberantly in Starship Troopers and Basic Instinct--but if anything, the director seems to tone down the proceedings, and really, who wants a muted Paul Verhoeven movie? --Mark Englehart, Amazon.com
On the DVD: In the audio commentary with director Paul Verhoeven and star Kevin Bacon, Hollow Man scriptwriter Andrew Marlowe reveals that the story had been in development for some nine years before it got made, and that he had worked on it for "a number of years". An amazing revelation, given that the main attraction of this DVD is surely the cutting-edge special effects and the fascinating behind-the-scenes deconstruction of them. The DVD viewer cannot help but wonder how anyone could have spent years on a script that looks like it was cobbled together over a weekend as an excuse to play around with some really neat CGI effects. The various documentary features on the disc break down all the key FX scenes in exhaustive detail, showing the creative blend of live action and CGI and all the painstaking methods by which it was achieved. Director Verhoeven is appropriately profiled as "Hollywood's Mad Scientist" in the "Anatomy of a Thriller" featurette (in the commentary he makes a comparison with Hitchcock's Rear Window that only serves to underline the gulf between his ambitious vision and its execution). Elsewhere, legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith provides a commentary to his music, which gives hope to fans that he will now do the same for some of his better scores. There are deleted scenes, trailers, storyboards and a really neat menu interface to round off an enjoyable DVD package. Anamorphic picture and sound quality are impeccable. --Mark Walker
To make a long story short, Caine goes ahead with the human experimentation, only to find that he is unable to replicate the success he had with the laboratory animals and render himself visible again, once rendered invisible. He begins to deteriorate mentally, sinking into an inexplicable and bizarre maniacal state until he is totally out of control.
Moreover, Caine, the acknowledged genius of a scientific assemblage, is aware that he is losing it. Yet, he does nothing to assist in the discovery of what went wrong with the experiment and what could be done to correct the problem. He, instead, inexplicably leaves the solution to the self-acknowledged lesser capabilities of his colleagues. This simply does not compute with the film's portrayal of Caine's inherent character.
Moreover, there is also virtually no explanation for Bacon's rapid descent into apparent madness, where his antics range from naughty and not nice to totally evil and depraved. This is a big hole in the story, and Bacon's character reflects this omission, as the viewer is not moved to feel any compassion for him. The character of Caine is, in essence, just a mechanism used to facilitate a lot of action scenes with great special effects.
Therein lies the rub. Caine, as a character, has no redeeming value or quality. In other words he is no Jekyll and Hyde. He is just Hyde. This is why, I believe the movie has been so panned by most viewers, even though they may not have articulated it as such.
With such great visual effects, I am also surprised that more attention was not paid to production details. A latex mask created for Caine does not appear to have breathing holes for the nostrils. The film also occasionally segues into the absurd. In one scene, the ease with which plastic bags of blood were ripped open with one character's bare hands defied reality. I have a harder time ripping open a plastic bag of carrots. In another scene, Caine's character is torched with a flame thrower over, and over, and over again. Yet, like the energizer bunny, he keeps on going. This was simply not believable. The film is fraught with a number of moments of implausibility.
If you are willing to suspend belief and just sit back and accept the movie at face value, however, one should still be able to reasonably enjoy this movie, as it does, despite the plot holes, have its moments, and the visual effects are dazzling.
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