In this update of H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man, Kevin Bacon stars as Dr. Sebastian Caine, the power hungry genius behind a top secret, government sponsored project to render a person invisible and then return that person safely to visibility. Supposedly, the government wants to use this technology to create an invisible commando unit. After many failed attempts, Dr. Caine, in the fine tradition of mad scientists everywhere, decides that he should be the final test subject. As you may have guessed, that test does not go as well as the good doctor had planned.
The story of the invisible man has tons of potential. There were many ways this version could deviate from the original story, and still remain true to it, but instead of imaginative, original ideas for Hollow Man, the screenplay offers only the additions of sex, gore, and violence. This is a movie on auto-pilot. There is even one scene that is lifted almost completely from Alien, with Caine having trapped his fellow scientists in their underground complex, while they are frantically searching for him. (Caine plays the part of the alien, and even hides in the same place!)
Also, these supposedly intelligent characters make a lot of standard 'horror-movie-victim' mistakes. Imagine that you and four others are being stalked by an unseen aggressor. What would you do? Would you all stay together and barricade yourselves in a place the aggressor can't get to, and wait for help? Nooooooo- You would split up, making it easier for the aggressor to kill each of you in unique and entertaining ways! And, should you finally beat the aggressor to the ground, you would of course turn and walk away without making sure that he's dead. That way, the camera can then show a lovely shot of the empty floor where the aggressor HAD been moments earlier. Ooohh! Isn't that scary?
The rest of the plot is predictable horror-movie formula. Caine cuts the phone lines so no one can call for help, taunts his victims, and goes on a killing spree. It ends with many things getting blowed-up real good. That's about it. There isn't much to pull us into the story, and I found myself wondering things like, 'if there actually were an invisible commando unit, wouldn't they be running into each other all the time?' Any movie that gives its audience time to think of things like that while they're watching it has some pretty big problems!
In addition, the entire concept of invisiblilty is handled as though the script were written by a 13 year old boy. How would most 13 year old boys use the power of invisibility? Yep! That's right! It's The Invisible Horny Guy. I had expected a much higher regard for the material than that. For comparison, even the dark comedy Memoirs of an Invisible Man, starring Chevy Chase, takes this subject more seriously.
Not all of this film was disappointing. There were a few good ideas, and Kevin Bacon's performance was pretty good. He makes a surprisingly convincing villian. Also, the special effects are fantastic. This is one film that, if you're just interested in the effects, I would recommend you see on the big screen. I have a feeling it won't come across nearly as impressive once this movie hits home video. Another thing I liked was that the method by which a living creature is rendered invisible was very interesting, and differs from the usual way invisibility is shown (or not shown) in movies.
There were many promising ideas concerning that process that could have been expanded upon, but weren't. One sequence, that could have resulted in a much better and original ending, had to do with a reversion to visibility process that was found to be only 95% successful. They never come back to that idea, and go with a climax that has been used before in dozens of other movies.
The Invisible Man is a story that deserves a good remake, but Hollow Man isn't it. I hope someday Hollywood tries this idea again, and gets it right.