Whilst attending a swanky party a scientist is violently murdered. Blood stained footprints at the crime scene provide a rather strange clue. Why was the suspect barefoot? The investigating officers have little time to ponder this as government agents arrive to take charge of the case, relegating them to the task of babysitting Maggie Dalton, a scientist who may also be on the killer’s hit list. When his partner is killed Detective Frank Turner and Maggie go on the run and become entangled in a high reaching conspiracy involving invisible assassins.
Invisibility, an appealing thought. Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to be able to walk around unseen. What would you do? Where would you go? The movie industry has tapped into this idea many times, one of the earliest and most enjoyable examples being James Whale’s 1933 adaptation of H.G. Well’s novel The Invisible Man. In 2000 Paul Verhoeven, a director known for his love of violent and blackly comic sci-fi films added Hollow Man to the roster of invisibility movies. Kevin Bacon took the lead role in a film whose main selling point was the impressive cg fx which brought an invisible man to the screen in a series of increasingly inventive ways.
Six years later comes Hollow Man 2, a sequel in name only with merely a cursory connection to the original, the events of which are alluded to in a short expositional scene. The plot opens things up from the claustrophobic confines of the subterranean lab, the setting of Verhoeven’s film, but it’s really a rather by the numbers offering. Christian Slater takes the lead role as the mentally unhinged Michael Griffin, a man obsessed with exacting revenge against those responsible for his condition. Much like Claude Rains in Whale’s film Slater is physically absent for most of the running time. Therefore not much is required of him other than to lend his distinctive voice to proceedings. The other cast members are equally ‘invisible’ such is the mediocrity of their performances. You never really root for the hero, or care when the heroine is put in peril.
But Hollow Man 2 is not a character driven movie, it’s main focus being the numerous gimmicks used to bring an invisible man to the screen. Unfortunately the writers don’t add anything new to what has gone before and in one instance a couple of brief shots from Verhoeven’s movie have been used. This is obviously due to the low budget which also means that most of the fx are of the traditional kind; objects floating on wires, actors pretending to interact with an unseen assailant etc. The final face off between two invisible men during a downpour is an enticing prospect but the result is far too brief and anti-climactic.
The fact that this is a straight to video sequel arriving more than half a decade after the original says it all really. Hollow Man 2 is an uninspiring B movie that falls back on familiar themes that have been used countless times in other films; the cop trying to avenge his partner’s death, secret military experiments, the hunt for a mad killer. The final coda leaves the door open for a further sequel but unless more invention is injected into both script and visuals it’s hard to imagine anyone getting too excited by the prospect of Hollow Man 3.