The general opinion on this one is that it is pretty terrible.
I honestly don’t understand why.
It may not be brilliant, or what anyone expected, but it is a pretty decent thriller film, even if it must have cost a ton of money for all the special effects that went into it.
Now I suspect that the real problem was Paul Verhoeven: here we have a director who had a hard core art film reputation for making films in Holland (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s description of how gross and disgusting they were leads me to suspect that, like so many Indie films, they were hailed as great art because they were so shocking), before going on to make big budget Hollywood Blockbuster films like Robocop and Total Recall which had plenty of shocking and gross moments. I sure this helped a lot with those who’d loved his earlier gross and disgusting films, but I also remember one professional critic who said that Total Recall was the only movie he’d seen where the version edited for television was better than the theatrical cut.
And then he made Hollow Man and disappointed his fans. It just doesn’t have anything as shocking as Sharon Stone flashing her privates, or the violent deaths in Robocop or Total Recall. In fact, he cut out most of a rape scene, leaving only enough to let us know what happened.
I guess you never know when an artist will actually develop a bit of good taste and artistic restraint.
But, don’t worry, he’s apologized for it.
The plot is, well, standard. The absolute genius of the god-like variety who seems to fill the ranks of science (in the movies) tries out his invisibilty formula on himself and starts going nuts as a result of its side effects. Then he kills everyone. What really stands out here are the absolutely stunning effects. These include some absolutely incredible scenes of partly transparent bodies (they actually donated their 3-D map of Kevin Bacon’s body to a major medical university afterward), figures appearing in smoke or water or splashes of blood as well as the expected familiar tricks like things moving themselves or footprints appearing out of nowhere.
The joke was that Kevin Bacon thought he’d have an easy job with this film, as he’d be invisible for most of it and wouldn’t have to do much.
Well, he was wrong. Instead he had to put on skintight suits in various colors, wear contacts in matching shades, get painted black, wear a dental dam, have casts made of his face, and I’m not sure what else.
Not to mention that there was a lot of brutal action, fights and physically demanding work to being invisible.
But then, you’ve never not seen an invisible man like this…