In the few days since Hollow Man has been released, I have read 643 reviews proclaiming, “Hollow Man? Hollow movie!” (or words to that effect). What is so annoying about these reviews (other than their authors’ lamentable wit) is the reviewers’ outrage at the film’s hollowness. Wake up, guys! Hollow Man’s director Paul Verhoeven, is the auteur who brought us Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers and Showgirls. Obviously, his oeuvre is as hollow as a cheap chocolate Easter bunny. That’s no affront to Verhoeven: He’s successful at his job and makes a damn good living at it. However, his job comprises the production of base entertainment whose sole purpose is to induce us to consume massive quantities of Twizzlers while drooling at his pretty visuals, and Hollow Man is no exception. If you were expecting more than mere eye candy, then you should perhaps consider some other directors’ work. Hollow Man’s plot: Kevin Bacon plays Sebastian Caine, a cocky Pentagon-employed scientist in command of a confidential research program whose purpose is the formulation of an “invisibility serum.” However, Caine is, to put it simply, a grown-up nerd, brilliant but socially repugnant. He may have attained the trappings of scientific success — authority, government-funding, a Porsche convertible — but deep down he is still a Twinkie-scarfing geek who can’t get a date because of his repellent superiority complex. When he’s not inhaling junk food or praising his own genius, Sebastian lusts after Linda McKay (Elisabeth “Wooden” Shue), a member of his research team. Linda, though, loves another man (Josh Brolin), and rebuffs Sebastian’s every entreaty. And she’s not the only one who resists his charms. Sebastian just can’t get no satisfaction — not even from his laboratory underlings, an affront that infuriates him. So he injects himself with his laboratory serum and indulges in one of every pubescent boy’s nocturnal fantasies: He wreaks havoc as an invisible man. At first, Sebastian’s antics remain relatively innocent: He grabs the occasional fanny and fondles a breast or two. However, when all attempts to make Sebastian visible again fail, mayhem and carnage ensue, with the mad scientist taking dead aim at Linda and her lover. Feeling that he has nothing to lose, Caine goes on to seek revenge against anyone and everyone who has ever snubbed him. And while it’s apparent that Voerhoeven intends for Caine’s actions to betray the deepest, most base of human desires, the director dooms himself from the start: Because he never bothers to portray Caine as a likable character, the audience is understandably reluctant to search for shreds of Caine within themselves. As a special-effects-laden action film, Hollow Man satisfies — providing glossy, high-intensity fight sequences. Chances are, if you had been planning to see Hollow Man regardless of its critical reviews and/or blatant shortcomings, you may be the guy who is Abel to conjure some archetypal connection with Bacon’s Caine.
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