Written by: Andrew W. Marlowe, story by Andrew W. Marlowe & Gary Scott Thompson
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, William Devane
My Advice: Rental.
Sebastian Caine (Bacon) is an asshole. You can tell this because when characters are named Sebastian they undoubtedly are assholes. He works with his ex, Linda (Shue), and her clandestine new lover, Matt (Brolin). They’ve been experimenting with phase shifting animals out of the visible universe…kind of like a H.G. Wells’ Doctor Dolittle kind of thing. Caine is so sure of himself that he’s ready to try the process out on himself, just like any ethical mad scientist would do. But…is he ready to face the consequences of this decision? And more importantly…are the supporting characters? And even more importantly, should you subject yourself to such a film?
[ad#longpost]Let me give you the good news up front: it looks awesome. Before we get the treat of watching Bacon disappear, as you’ve already caught glimpses of in the trailer, we get to watch an animal reappear–which is downright freaky. There’s so many cool touches that you know the FX crew were the ones truly on the ball in this film. Watch as Bacon plays with an invisible dog that’s viewable only on the heat sensitive monitor above them. Watch as you can see a tube inserted into Bacon’s throat–from where it enters his mouth all the way down into his neck. The opening sequence with a small rodent alone is worth the price of rental–oops, I said rental, didn’t I? Yes, something must be wrong.
Well, as good as everything looks (and as amazing a trooper Bacon was for having to go through what he did only to be FX’d out of visibility), you have to wonder: how did such stupid people get to be specialists working on a government project in the first place? They can MacGyver up all kinds of nifty gizmos out of a cabinet handle and a defibrillator (are they supposed to be stored in freezers?) and such but they don’t have the basic common sense to stick together when the fit hits the shan? If you’re in a dollar rental slasher flick, okay yeah, sure, run off by yourself–but when the first hour and twenty minutes leads you to believe you’re watching an almost intelligent thriller with an actual build of tension, man, what a let down. All you needed was the hockey mask and the final outrageous over-the-top act would have been complete.
The descent from interesting premise to possible matinee fare to howls of laughter crosses the final line with duct tape. Sure, a boy scout might just use that universal adhesive for just that job, but in this context it’s laughable. You’ll know it when you see it, ladies and gents, just trust me on this one. It’s a shame, after reading all the time and trials taken to bring the fabulous FX to life, that somebody couldn’t have done so with the script. I guess we’ll just have to wait a few years until Hollywood gets it in its collective head to rip off Wells once more. If you’re a sucker for effects, okay yeah, catch a matinee. But if you actually want meat on those bones, then wait till it hits your local video rental emporium. You’ve been warned.