A Review by Noah Antwiler
Okay, here's the setup: imagine the sequel to a movie so bad that it basically buried Kevin Bacon's career (go on, name a movie he's made since Hollow Man. I fuckin' dare you) and tell me who you'd cast in the lead role. You can't get Kevin back, because for all his faults, he does appear to know when to jump ship. He got away from Tremors just in time, didn't he? So who do you call? It has to be someone desperate, someone who has the appearance of a leading man without all those hangups like self-respect, a good agent, and talent. Paul Walker? Good guess but six points go to his abs alone. We need someone cheaper, because this movie is going direct-to-video and we're on a budget. (Worse than Hollow Man? Good god!) So what do you do when Vin Diesel and Ben Affleck won't return your calls? When we're talking about someone this low, you don't need a phone, you need a putty knife to scrape the bottom of the barrel and get Christian Slater, the man with talent on loan from a Jack Nicholson impersonator and Uwe Boll on his speed-dial. Christian will show up for cheese sandwiches and warm Tang if you let him be in your movie, so it's a good deal. He's really going through a rough patch in his career, and you can tell. Notice the perpetually stunned expression. That "I was in True Romance! What the fuck happened to me?" gawk as he looks into the camera, silently pleading for help.
You know you're in for a sphincter-stinging broken broomstick up-your-ass kind of movie-watching experience when the synopsis on the back of the box promises "nonstop thrills as Christian Slater plays Michael Griffin, an invisible assassin turned insane murderer" and Peter Facinelli from The Scorpion King (oh that's a good sign...) as a Seattle homicide detective who "must take the invisibility serum and become a Hollow Man himself. Twice the action, twice the thrills, and twice the terror - as the two Hollow Man face one another in their spectacular final battle."
So basically your two leads aren't even in the movie after the first 45 minutes. Gotcha. Oh, and by the way, this is what the "spectacular final battle" looks like from the cover art:
Plus, and I think this is the really important part, this movie comes to us from executive producer Paul Verhoeven, who has a wonderfully bombastic style of movie-making that is the cinematic equivalent of a kid playing with his Transformers action figures and smashing his green army men with Optimus Prime and the aid of a magnifying glass. When it works, you get Robocop. When it doesn't? Well...
Yeah. Anyway, when I saw this, I knew I had to knock off this Asian horror movie shit I've been reviewing non-stop for the last few months and finally get back to bitch-slapping some truly heinous American flicks. And I thought this would be a good warm-up for me since Christian Slater was in Alone in the Dark, and Uwe Boll has a number of shitty films coming out soon, including Far Cry and Postal (a film destined to be so bad, Boll has already admitted that Osama Bin Laden will be one of the lead characters). This movie has the look of being a disasterpiece of epic proportions, and I need to be in fighting trim to withstand the next salvo from that mad German motherfucker. At least until I perfect my time machine and go back in time to terminate him before he was ever born. Of course, that will mean that my life of reviewing godawful ball-licking movies will have never been, and a tangential me will exist happily as a joke-writer for Bazooka Gum wrappers, oblivious of all the tripe that scarred the original me, who sets about on a campaign of terror, assassinating the birth parents of certain assholes like George Lucas, David Arquette, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Chris Tucker.
Not that I've planned this out or anything.
Hollow Man 2 opens at one of those swanky-type dinners held at Wayne Manor, complete with a chamber orchestra, ice sculptures that you'd secretly like to molest if it weren't socially unacceptable to fondle ice-mermaid nipples, and those roving dudes who exist only to offer you tepid booze. A sloshed doctor swaggers up to a vaguely fugly blonde lady and introduces himself as an M.D., as if saying those letters were the "open sesame' to a woman's thighs. On second thought...uh, he quickly runs out of suave conversation as the line doesn't work and when pressed about what he's a doctor of, he shrugs and says "I kill monkeys."
One of his colleagues sees Alkie floundering, because the whole "I kill monkeys" thing didn't get the expected laugh and tries to bail him out. "I think he means he's in medical research," he adds.
"Nope!" Alkie burps. "I just like to kill monkeys!" Hey, who doesn't! It's still not a good segueway into "Can I have your number" though. Fugly Blonde backs away with the usual "Mm hm! Well that's nice! Gotta go!" routine and runs for the hills, throwing people down in her path to hinder pursuit (a technique I've seen many times before!). Alkie scratches his head, wondering what went wrong, and whether he should try his "are those astronaut pants" line when suddenly, he lurches to one side, then another! Some invisible force starts shoving him around, crashing into the snack table and bumbling into guests. Alkie gets forced into the bathroom, where Hollow Slater starts demanding to know where "the MacGuffin is." I mean, "the bugger." I mean, "the buffer." He wants to know where the buffer is. Alkie insists that it's in a vault, where only Sidney Bristow can get to it using a Rambaldi brain wave detector. Instead, he sings like a canary about the only person who can make more of this wonderful buffer: Maggie Dalton.
Holllow Slater lets him go, saying "forget I was ever here. You never saw me (oh ha ha)." Alkie waits for the door to close before reaching for his phone, when suddenly it gets snatched away! Oooh damn, those invisible people could just be anywhere, couldn't they? "But I saw you!" Hollow Slater declares before cutting Alkie's throat. Enh, not the line I would have used. I would have gone for something a little wittier like "bet you didn't see this coming, didya?"
Later, Detective Frank and Detective Brunette get bumped from the murder investigation because of pressure from the DOD (because they have jurisdiction over local homicides) and are reassigned to babysit a frigid blonde researcher from the same institute as Alkie. Frank tries to work his boyish Scorpion King charms on her, but gets nowhere fast. The detective in me sees that her house is decorated with a number of phallic symbols (totems, idols) and judging from her Ellen Degeneres hairstyle and the fact that she lives alone with her cat in a two-story house full of penises, I'm guessing lesbian. Makes me a little hopeful because Det. Brunette is pretty hawt, but Blondie ain't exactly a lipstick lesbian. Think Anne Heche. It'd be like watching Skeletor getting his hump on.
The detectives stake out Blondie's house, but since Hollow Slater is invisible there's not much they can do. Slater waits until nightfall in someone else's bedroom while a teenage couple play Paris Hilton In the Wild five feet away (why the hell is he in there if not exclusively to peep?). Detective Brunette doesn't last long on guard in the house before Slater cranks her over the head with a lamp and kills her. Special forces descend on the house, seemingly ignorant of the fact that their target is invisible even though they used Blondie as bait. The soldiers get cut to pieces, and even more embarassingly, by a naked Christian Slater. Eew. Just eew.
He chases Frank and Blondie a while until he gets hit by a car, forcing him to retreat and tend to his wounds. I don't know why we can see his wounds, or why he bleeds red on the floor. I thought he was invisible, but no doubt this has something to do with some bit of Hollow Man science babble I didn't pay any attention to the first time around. I guess I have to accept that if Slater can get around the inherent paradox of an invisible man being able to see with transparent retinas, I have to believe in his bleeding owwies.
So far, Slater's only said two lines and spent about eight seconds grunting, which means up to this point his participation in the movie can be accounted by five minutes in a recording studio.
Frank flees with Blondie and soon the Reisner Institute of Evil goes ballistic, screaming for the cops to pull a dragnet over the entire city looking for them. "If Blondie talks, it's all over for us!" says your basic anonymous evil white capitalist suit. Sure enough, when we rejoin Frank and Blondie on the lam, she's spilling the whole story about how Dr. Reisner figured out how to make Kevin Bacon invisible again, only a problem still existed in that the inviso-serum also kills people through radiation poisoning. Dr. Blondie invented "the bugger--" I mean "the buffer" to counteract the radiation. Unfortunately we forgot about the flaw discovered in the first movie, that little side-effect of making the subject INSAAAAANE! And I don't just mean "bought the latest Ruben Studdard CD" insane, I mean "kill everyone like I did in Heathers" insane. The government chose a war veteran as their first subject (good move, make your first invisible guy someone who's an expert in hand-to-hand combat). Combine that with the fact that he might be a little pissed that the U.S. Government withheld the buffer to kill him so that their secret could be preserved, and all of a sudden we got trouble.
Hollow Slater just decides to go kill everyone at the Reisner Institute. Evil Military General guy manages to get lucky and stab Slater with a fountain pen before he dies. Christian hilariously chooses to react simply with "ouch!"
Frank and Blondie are contacted by a Crusty Man, an old test subject from the days before they got all the kinks out of the serum. He tells them that the military's true purpose for developing the invisibility serum was to create assassins. No shit? For REAL? I thought the military was creating invisible taxi cab drivers. You know, just to fuck with people.
Anyway, Slater kidnaps Blondie's sister so he can set up a one-on-one meet with her. Unfortunately, Frank can't go anywhere without the cops coming out of the woodwork. Evidently the local P.D. is fucking phenomenal tracking down APBs for "generic milktoast white guys." The meet goes tits up, Hollow Slater kidnaps Blondie, and Frank is trapped by the cops. So Frank shoots himself up with the Inviso-Serum and becomes Hollow Frank! Blondie takes Slater back to the lab and gives him the buffer, after which (surprise, surprise) he tries to kill her. Good thing Hollow Frank shows up just in time to save the day. Let me tel you something: you ain't seen pointless until you've seen two invisible people fistfight. It's basically watching two foley artists in a duel to the death.
Christian Slater kicks Frank's ass though (imagine the humiliation), and is about to finish our plucky heroes off when suddenly Slater collapses and becomes visible! Blondie confesses that instead of the buffer, he was injected with rat poison (which makes you visible?). This incapacitates Hollow Slater enough to allow Frank to bash him to death with a shovel. Of course, this leaves Frank permanently invisible (unless he eats rat poison, I guess). But on the upside, he has unlimited peeping allowance.
To the Playboy Mansion!