Modern day tales of the ring of Gyges

“Meanwhile, as both an effects film and an indictment of toxic masculinity, Hollow Man has only improved.”

“All of that effects work would be for naught, however, if it weren’t for Bacon’s tour-de-force performance. As Sebastian, the arrogant scientist leading a military-funded lab team to develop an invisibility serum, he offers an alienating portrait of male entitlement, seething about the lack of validation he’s received from his peers and superiors, despite all evidence to the contrary. It’s oddly prophetic of the Silicon Valley tech wizard mentality, i.e. “innovation” as the ultimate goal, no matter the sacrifice nor the ends to which the tech will be used. Moreover, Sebastian’s anger toward ex-girlfriend and fellow team member Linda (Elizabeth Shue) because she commits the dual cardinal sins of no longer sleeping with him and shacking up with their handsome co-worker Matt (Josh Brolin) reeks of misogyny. Bacon persuasively weaponizes his charm, previously established in films like Footloose and Apollo 13, organically shifting from “run-of-the-mill workplace asshole” to “deranged mass murderer.””

Revisiting Paul Verhoeven’s Hollow Man and its straight-to-video sequel:

“As does the way the director keeps uncomfortably aligning the invisible cinemagoer’s intrinsic voyeurism with Sebastian’s own, showing us to what depths of depravity the male gaze can lead.

Sebastian is initially presented as a pioneering, maverick, cocky male figure of identification/aspiration – familiar from, and celebrated by, any number of Hollywood movies. In the end, Sebastian has been reconfigured precisely by those qualities as the film’s unambiguous villain. Verhoeven, ever the subversive filmmaker, leaves it up to us at which point we part company with this type of the great American hero.”

Rotten tomatoes is less kind, compared to the more recent inspiration of the Invisible Man starring Elizabeth Moss.

The Invisible Man on fanfare.

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