Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Starring: Sharon Stone, David Morrissey, David Thewlis, Charlotte Rampling, Hugh Darcy
Written by: Leora Barish, Henry Bean and (based on the characters created) Joe Eszterhas
Running Time: 114 mins
Original UK Cert: 18
Original UK Release: 31st March 2006
In 1992, Paul Verhoeven pushed the boundaries with his controversial erotic thriller, Basic Instinct, a film that raised the bar with how steamy it could get. It also turned Sharon Stone into an international star. In 2006, Michael Caton-Jones pushed the boundaries back several years with a sequel that is so bland, so lacking in erotica, that you genuinely feel slightly dirty after watching it.
Novelist Catherine Tramell is in London and in trouble with the law again. This time driving a car that kills footballer, Kevin Franks. Not knowing if she is fit for trial, she has to be analysed by psychiatrist Michael Glass. Immediately he falls under her spell and so begins a game of cat and mouse, in which Catherine may or may not be killing people connected, in some way, to Glass. While the doctor becomes obsessed with her, even though it could destroy his career and his life.
The film starts off on an off note by having real life footballer Stan Collymore as Kevin Franks. Once you see him, you immediately cannot take the rest of the film seriously and it seems, never can anyone else involved.
Caton-Jones obviously was only on board for the money because apart from a few fancy camera angles and interesting lighting decisions, the rest of the film is flat in tone and tension. The original always had that air of intrigue running through it and it helped to build the tension. Here the plot is so ludicrous and messy you really don’t care.
Having Tramell outsmart a doctor who obviously is intelligent just doesn’t work. She is no Hannibal Lector and yet it’s Glass who comes out of their sessions looking like he needs a psychiatrist. Then throw in a police officer who may or may not be crooked and you have a thriller with very little thrills.
As for the sex scenes, they were the major talking point of Basic Instinct’s success. Highly charged, erotic and sometimes shocking, it was the film that opened the doorway to other films going even further with the graphic detail. Here it looks like we have gone back to the 70’s soft porn days. Having Basic Instinct as your basis, you need to up your game, not take huge steps backwards. So in the end the scenes just look sleazy and somewhat unnecessary. Glass’s obsession with Tramell leads to one of the tamest sex scenes in screen history, in which we get a similar “hand under the bed” scene where Tramell could be going for a knife. Even the dialogue sounds like it’s been lifted from the pages of a sleazy novel.
What also was bothersome was Sharon Stone’s hair. She still looks stunning, even if she was pushing 50 in this, yet her fringe is awful, like she hacked it off herself without a mirror. Her performance is a strange mix of 1930’s film noir femme fatale and pantomime dame!
David Morrissey, who we know is an excellent actor, tries his best with the material he has been given but you simply cannot believe that Glass would act the way he does. Only David Thewlis, as the detective, gives the part what it deserves: laid back, effortless and without really trying.
Basic Instinct 2 is one of those films that isn’t bad enough to be good and isn’t corny enough to be laughable. It should be filed under two sections: pointless sequels and total drivel. Avoid.
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