Much though I am a great fan of Paul Verhoven and his amusing mixture of sex and violence (all done in the best possible taste of course), Hollow Man was really quite a disappointment. It lacked any kind of satirical edge, had a lead character whose psychological torment was touched on, but could have been more interestingly exposed for a tense psychological thriller. Instead it boiled down to a mess series of fights with an invisible enemy who had more lives than Home Alone's villains, but was also completely naked - his clothes couldn't become invisible. Suspending disbelief is fine up to a point, but when it's so aimless and tedious I just can't be bothered any more. Something of a dud. The same can unfortunately be said for Jerry Goldsmith's surprisingly uninteresting score.
The Hollow Man is Goldsmith's opening title music which I actually felt was most effective in the film as it played against the credits which appeared amongst a swirling microscope view of letters. Comments have usually suggested it being like Basic Instinct and while it is fairly similar, the icy eroticism of that score is almost completely absent and just into moody suspense, an effective curtain raiser. Goldsmith's synth effect of the day is a sampled violin which sounds like the player is bouncing the bow slightly randomly over the strings - only on a synthesiser. I must admit that I rather like the effect and because it's from an acoustic instrument, will likely date less quickly. However, much else is a pretty mundane mixture of suspense and really quite unexciting action writing. The suspense isn't terribly tense, even though it's atmospheric without being tuneless. However it really goes on a bit too long and some of the middle tracks could easily have been omitted. The more dynamic sequences worked well in the film, but on disc become another glaring variant on the Insurrection or US Marshalls action, but distinctly lacking in Goldsmith's usual flair.
While I am quite happy to defend Goldsmith when I feel he is being unfairly criticised - my feeling being that mediocre Goldsmith rates higher than many composer's best work - I must accept that Hollow Man is a pretty insipid effort. The little ideas from previous works cloak the score in deja-vu, which I can cope with if something interesting is fashioned, but Goldsmith simply sounds bored. His comments at a concert while he was scoring the film in which he stated that Verhoven was his best modern day collaborator seems to have come unfortunately unstuck in this instance. Then again, he also mentioned he was sick of writing scores for crappy action films, perhaps this is a sign that even for people he respects can't inspire him that much any more. Not a totally uninteresting score by any means and generally listenable, but had it been half an hour long, I suspect a much tighter and less repetitive album would have provided a better listen and more favourable rating.