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'Hollow Man'

Sizzling Bacon Effects pack power in 'Hollow Man'

Friday, August 04, 2000

By Barry Paris, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Top Five Things I'd Do If I Were Invisible:


RATING: R for profanity and brief nudity

STARRING: Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin

DIRECTOR: Paul Verhoeven


CRITIC'S CALL: 3 stars


1. Appear in public more often.

2. Cancel all the fashionable new clothes I ordered from the L.L. Bean catalog.

3. Slip into the Duquesne Club and put Frank Zappa tapes on the sound system.

4. Regularly hit the Grand Concourse's Sunday brunch and walk the check.

5. Muss up Laura and George W. Bush's hair on national TV.

Yes, it reveals a certain puerile strain of anarchy in my character, but not nearly such antisocial behavior as that evidenced by Kevin Bacon in "Hollow Man."

In director Paul Verhoeven's intriguing new sci-fi medical thriller, Bacon is the arrogant genius who heads a top-secret government project to develop a serum for inducing invisibility.

The stuff works just fine -- well, with a few psychopathic side effects -- on animals. Now, against all the rules and objections of his research partners, Elisabeth Shue and Josh Brolin, he insists on trying it out on himself.

Dr. Bacon's problem, however, is that the counter-serum fails to restore his mortal coil. It's as if only one side of Alice's mushroom in Wonderland worked. In any case, the longer he's forced to remain transparent, the testier he gets -- and the more jealous of Brolin's romance with Shue, even as they frantically search for an antidote.

The gimmick may sound cheesy, but the realization of it is not. The film's human metamorphic special effects are brilliantly riveting every time they occur. No cheap now-you-see-him, now-you-don't editing tricks: On the contrary, Bacon's skeletal, muscular and circulatory systems slowly appear and disappear like bio-magic -- layer by layer -- before our very eyes.

I'm no big fan of or sucker for F/X in general, but this is truly nifty stuff!

Bacon does a nice manic job as the mad scientist, more high-strung than a Stradivarius as he gradually comes to realize he's his own Frankenstein monster. Shue and Brolin are convincing in low-key support.

Things go downhill, unfortunately, when members of the research team start disappearing in "Ten Little Native Americans" fashion, leading up to the obligatory chase sequence with grand finale pyrotechnics. Science goes "Die Hard" on us.

The violent devices are transparent. The human transparency is thoroughly engrossing.

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