Having discovered they could turn animals invisible, a group of scientists test the subject on a human. Head of research, Dr. Sebastian Caine decides to use himself as the subject. After the experiment can't be reversed, it takes a toll on Caine's personality, causing him to hunt down and kill his colleagues
Let's get the flaws out of the way up front. Elizabeth Shue was the cynosure of all the critical attacks as the worst acting, hard to believe scientist ever. The casting here was the other weakness, with the exception of a young Josh Brolin, there was pretty weak acting across the front cast. The devolving into a gory slasher picture was the other admittedly well aimed salvo. For me, a philosopher, I have always owned the movie for it is a depiction of the famous argument between Socrates and Glaucon in Plato's Republic. The question of a ring that makes one invisible and the moral consequences of invisibility is the core of both their argument and Verhoeven's movie. Paul takes Socrates' position that it would unavoidably cause moral deterioration and corruption until the person became what makes up the majority of the human soul: Darkness. Here, Bacon has a slight contempt for his subordinates, manifests contempt for authority and a fascination with Linda's new boyfriend. Also, he likes spying on the hot woman across the street through her window. What is interesting in the movie is that these innocuous predilections grow slowly into more deadly actions bit by bit. Verhoeven's movie shows the slow crossing of the norms of civilized behavior by Sebastian.
He begins by molesting a sleeping woman, murdering a dog and then the descent steepens. I agree with the detractors, as a pure action movie, it gets quite gory near the end. For me, the question is dealt with well and believably. The consequences of anonymity already provides justification for Paul's narrative: lynch mobs, the Klan, when people have the protection of being unknown we tend to see just what this movie shows us. Bacon did a competent job but Brolin will show hints of the great actor he was to become. The movie does have pop out scares but Verhoeven tends to cross into the serial killer on the loose thread that so damaged Sunshine. There is clever infrared photography, like Predator, where you are looking with the cast trying to find this invisible psycho on the loose. I never found this boring in the slightest, the ending is quite well done and impressive with the climb up the elevator shaft. We suspect he is there, when I saw this with an audience, his pop out triggered popcorn explosions. The movie reflects my and Socrates' view that the sliver of Light inside of us would be overcome by the temptation of invisibility. Verhoeven attenuates this somewhat by having Sebastian slightly eccentric and hostile at the beginning.
The worst performance that damaged this was the gorgeous but bad actress Shue. She did give a good reading in Leaving Las Vegas though I hardly thought it was Oscar worthy. When I saw this with an audience, people were laughing when she was spouting science babble. The movie's violence increases as it progresses; it is not remotely for children. That said, all of Verhoeven's movies are ultra-violent. RoboCop, Total Recall, Black Book, find me one of his that isn't? I consider it quite entertaining, despite a weak cast, with great photography and pop out scare the living crap out of you moments. Paul does some clever things with water, smoke and even has his burned dead skin flaking off as he walks away. I like the movie for its dark honesty about human nature and the patina of civilization that truly is a thin covering over a globe of darkness. Like the opening of 2001, where Kubrick shows you Animal Night and the thin crescent of Light which is human nature. The movie will scare you in parts and is well done. While not being Verhoeven's best, RoboCop, it is not his worst either.
As a philosopher it reminds me of the great Darkness inside of myself and to always stand guard over it. Paul's view mirrors Socrates in the Republic. They both argue that the temptation would overcome anyone. If you haven't seen it, check it out. I own it but I would watch it before buying it. For many people, the cast was just too below average. A Dark, Intriguing Movie. Q.E.D.
"From The Dark Inside Me." From Event Horizon
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