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Worth A Look: 6.15%
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Pretty Crappy43.08%
Sucks: 40%

8 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Basic Instinct 2
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Like the Blockbuster-edited version of a lesser Shannon Tweed epic"
1 stars

The original “Basic Instinct” is hardly the kind of film that even the most generous of viewers would describe as a classic–it was crude, silly, coarse, vulgar, incoherent and so cheerfully unconcerned with the particulars of the story that it was telling that it was structured in such a way that two entirely different people could have potentially turned out to be the ice-pick-wielding maniac, depending on the reaction of test audiences, by simply deleting a few seconds of footage from the ending. Nevertheless, it did have its virtues for those willing to look beyond its lurid surface. The obvious one was, of course, the star-making performance from Sharon Stone, a heretofore undistinguished actress (best-known at the time as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s treacherous wife in Verhoeven’s “Total Recall”) who took the role of the omnisexual (and possibly homicidal) author Catherine Trammel, a part that had been rejected by too many A-list actresses to mention and transformed it into a sly and sexy portrait of stiletto-clad evil that you couldn’t take your eyes off of, even if you thought that the film itself was the stupidest thing ever made by human beings.

More importantly, “Basic Instinct,” despite its cynical conception as a money-making potboiler, caught the vibe of what was going on in the world in a way that few films of the era did. While it was fairly obvious that director Paul Verhoeven held Joe Eszterhas’ famously expensive screenplay in somewhat less than high regard (perhaps recognizing it as a dumber version of Verhoeven’s previous foray into the kinky psycho-sexual thriller genre featuring a potentially homicidal icy blonde who drives a sexually deranged man to his doom, his 1983 Dutch mindbender “The 4th Man”), he did attack the material with an uber-Hitchcockian style (aided by the stunning contributions from composer Jerry Goldsmith and cinematographer Jan De Bont) that captured the zeitgeist of the time of its 1992 release–the inherent dangers of sex in the AIDS era and the ongoing gender wars that had reignited a few months earlier with the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings. If “Basic Instinct” had been released a year earlier or a year later, it is likely that it wouldn’t have made nearly the cultural impact that it wound up having.

In fact, it so accurately captured what was blowing in the wind at that particular period that the notion of somehow making a sequel would seem like a doomed proposition from the start–it is hard enough to capture lightning in a bottle once and nearly impossible to do it twice. Of course, a half-billion gross has the same effect on some as a panty-free flash has on others and people have been struggling for nearly fourteen years to bring a sequel to the screen. Many filmmakers were consulted–including David Cronenberg(?), John McTiernan and Verhoeven himself–many start dates were announced and scrapped and many lawsuits were threatened. If someone were to one day make a movie about this torturous development period, it could conceivably make for a rich and penetrating observation of the insanity that seemingly rational people can be driven in order to satisfy their own basic instincts for power, greed and glory. At the very least, it would have to be better than the end result, the cunningly titled “Basic Instinct 2” a film that promises more kinky thrills and chills but leaves us only with the sight of a bunch of good actors stuck in one of the more pointless plots in recent memory and a central performance from Stone that aims for lowbrow camp and misses the mark completely.

Admittedly, the opening sequence, in which Catherine indulges in some London-based high-speed erotica in a sports car with a soccer star that ends badly for the person who doesn’t have top billing, is goofy enough to suggest that the usually drab director Michael Caton-Jones might have at least had the grace to approach the material with the same lurid goofiness that Verhoeven did. Sadly, it is a sequence that writes a check that the rest of the film can’t cash and the story turns into a thoroughly uninteresting battle of the wits between Catherine and psychiatrist Michael Glass (David Morrissey), the court-appointed shrink who interviews her to see if she is fit for trial and, when she is freed, becomes her shrink and, it seems, the central character in the new novel she is writing. As the bodies begin to stack up– including Glass’ ex-wife and a tabloid reporter about to write a story revealing a dark chapter of the doctor’s professional life–Glass finds himself trying to get to the bottom of the murders while falling further under the manipulative sway of Catherine, despite the warnings of his mentor (Charlotte Rampling) and an unhinged cop (David Thewlis) who may be more involved in the crimes than he seems to be.

It isn’t the by-the-numbers plotting that sinks “Basic Instinct 2"–although its sheer stupidity (especially in the laughable closing scenes) certainly makes an effort to do so. What kills it is the absolute lack of any tension, erotic or otherwise, between Stone and Morrissey. One of the things that made the first film so compelling was watching Michael Douglas–the very epitome of early-90's granite-jawed machismo–thoroughly meeting his match in the kind of lethally brainy babe who could subvert all notions of male authority simply by lighting a cigarette. Here, the Glass character is so thoroughly emasculated from the beginning–at times, he looks and sounds like one of those civil-servant dolts that John Cleese would skewer in his Monty Python days–that seeing him driven to distraction by Stone doesn’t have any kick or snap to it. Even during the two brief sex scenes that he appears in (both of which are virtual blueprints of moments from the original), he doesn’t really seem to be a part of the proceedings. He is so dull that you can never quite figure out what Catherine sees in him that convinces her that she is a worthy opponent for her special brand of mind games.

A more pressing problem is that Stone’s performance as Catherine is, to put it simply, absolutely terrible. Considering the fact that self-consciously aggressive female sexuality is far more prevalent today than in 1992, I would have like to see Stone approach the part in a way that would allow her to explore her feelings in that regard–how does Catherine Tramell work in the same world as Britney Spears or Paris Hilton? Instead, she has taken the easy way out and has gone for a high-camp approach that suggests nothing so much as a slightly kinkier version of a “Batman” villain. She saunters, sneers and flounces about with such over-the-top deliberation that it feels at times as if we are watching a drag queen doing Stone instead of Stone herself and the ludicrous lines she has been given to deliver (the funniest and most printable being “Even Oedipus didn’t see his mother coming!”) don’t help her much either. And while her brief nude scenes do reveal that the 47-year-old actress is remarkably well-preserved, she is again trying so hard to be arousing that she winds up having the opposite effect. Perhaps she should have taken notes from co-star Charlotte Rampling, who is at least a decade or so older and manages to be far more devastatingly erotic just sitting in a room fully dressed than Stone is sitting fully naked in a hot tub. (Then again, a shot of an absurdly phallic office building supplies more erotic heat here than Stone, though I suspect both may utilize some of the same construction processes.)

As drably conceived and executed as its title suggests, the only shocking thing about “Basic Instinct 2" is how utterly boring it is–instead of using the flashes of inspiration (among other things) from the original as a leaping-off point, it merely rehashes those moments without any of the juice of the original. At one point in the film, Catherine complains about a psychiatric session as “too many answers, too many questions and no one gets laid”–a description that pretty much sums up the entire film in a nutshell.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14283&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/31/06 00:22:58
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell IT SUCKS 1 stars
10/21/08 Shaun Wallner Very Boring! 1 stars
6/05/08 Jenn Boring, dull, and completely unsexy...as hard as that is to believe. 2 stars
2/18/07 PC Stone is great is this kind of role.Not deserving of the bad rap this movie has gotten. 4 stars
2/17/07 David Pollastrini obviously made for money. glad it didn't make any! 1 stars
2/08/07 Dude really aweful 1 stars
10/02/06 Lisa Craven Cheap flick, cheap woman, stupid/predictable plot 2 stars
8/15/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen High gloss trash...like your mom 1 stars
5/28/06 Troy M. Grzych The fact that it was not in the cineama long says everything. 2 stars
5/08/06 Anton To be a 14 year later sequel it's not that bad 4 stars
4/13/06 M Sharon steams up the screen. Film not 'racy' enough, could of pushed envelope a bit more 3 stars
4/10/06 joey Entertaining. Good job by stone, great comic performance by the guy playing the detective. 4 stars
4/09/06 mr. mike one of filmdom's worst ever endings 2 stars
4/08/06 Mike I feel sorry for everyone involved in the making of this film 1 stars
4/06/06 Steve Michaud An embarrassingly limp and utterly unnecessary sequel 1 stars
4/01/06 john bale Sharon Stone still can steam up the screen, even in this uninspired but watchable reprise 4 stars
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  31-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 11-Jul-2006



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