Sharon Stone as Catherine Davis Tramell
David Morrissey as Dr. Michael Glass
Charlotte Rampling as Milena Gardosh
David Thewlis as Roy Washburn
Hugh Dancy as Adam Towers
Flora Montgomery as Michelle Broadwin
Anne Caillon as Laney Ward
Iain Robertson as Peter Ristedes
Stan Collymore as Kevin Franks
Kata Dobó as Magda
Jan Chappell as Angela
Directed by Michael Caton-Jones
With no thrills, no scares, and nothing particularly interesting beyond its “racy” sex scenes, this bland sequel should probably have been allowed to die stillborn while the producers had the chance.
Erotic mystery novelist Catherine Tramelle (Sharon Stone) is living in London, and after getting into an automobile accident that kills her boyfriend, she’s brought in by Scotland Yard and put under the care of psychologist Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey), who determines that she is addicted to risk. She proves him right by starting a torrid affair with him, as those even remotely connected with him start dying off.
By now, you probably know all the stories about what was involved with getting this sequel to the screen over fourteen years after the original. With the original writer, director and star gone, that just left Sharon Stone to reenact her role as Catherine Tramelle, the mystery novelist who uses men for sex before killing them. As much as one might want to see this movie work as a separate entity, it’s almost impossible to ignore the fact that this is a sequel. Therefore, it has to be as worthy of the original; needless to say, it’s not.
As the movie opens, Catherine is well into her Anglo-centric schemes, driving along the Thames in an expensive sports car with a drugged boyfriend in the passenger’s seat. For whatever reason, she drives the car into the river, leaving the man behind to drown. (Enjoy this scene because it’s about as exciting as the movie gets.) Suspected of the murder, Tramelle is introduced to court psychologist Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey), who agrees that she has issues that make her do the things she does. With nothing really to hold her, she is released, much to the anger of the Yard’s captain, Roy Washburn. Of course, Tramelle has already set her sights on Glass, and she shows up at his office for some “personal therapy sessions” so that she can further get her claws into him, and while Glass does what he can to keep Washburn away while he tries to learn more about this mysterious woman.
While most would expect this sequel to focus more on Tramelle, it actually spends way more time with Morrisey’s character, getting into the back story of how his wife left him for a journalist who accused Glass of lying on the stand in another case. Of course, they all start turning up dead once Glass learns that Tramelle has been involved with them. As strange as it is to have so many long sections without Stone, it’s even stranger when people are talking about her, and the film cuts to a random shot of her posed in some stylish outfit, like a scene where she uses an ice pick to break up ice, done solely as a nod to the previous movie despite having no connection to anything happening in the movie.
After the opening sequence, there isn’t much in terms of thrills or shocks or surprises, as the film moves along at a snail’s pace with one weak dialogue scene after another, and plenty of references to the original movie to remind you how much better it was. For the most part, the dialogue bounces from being bland to being laughably bad, despite how serious everything is. The credibility of Glass’ psychoanalysis is not helped by his psychobabble about Catherine having a “risk addiction” and “God complex,” which might sound good to a layman, but makes no sense if you think about it even for a second.
Overall, the movie’s plot is far too convoluted and all over the map, spending way too much time with Glass and the characters that surround him. The editing is sloppy, and the soundtrack sounds like it was blatantly plagiarized from any Hitchcock movie. Director Michael Caton-Jones finally starts pulling together what has turned into a complete mess by bringing everyone together into a ludicrous face-off, which leads to an even sillier epilogue, which tries to offer the type of twist that most people have been expecting since the beginning of the film, but arrives too late in the game.
Frankly, Morrissey is a bit of a dead fish, giving such a flat performance that it’s hard to believe that Tramell would have any interest in him, let alone that she might have much of an effect on his stoic demeanor. The thought that he might have any sort of passion hidden within him seems hard to believe. Stone doesn’t look bad for her age, far from it, but she’s wearing so much makeup that it doesn’t do her much justice, and her nude scenes are more disturbing than erotic. She also delivers all of her lines in a hyper-dramatic way with lots of pregnant pauses that make it almost impossible not to laugh every time she shows up on screen.
With almost no chemistry between them, Morrissey’s lack of presence puts him at a disadvantage while trying to share the screen with Stone, but he doesn’t do much better when paired with David Thewlis, who sports a silly Welsh accent, or Charlotte Rampling, who starred in the far superior French knock-off “Swimming Pool.”
Of course, there’s plenty of racy sex scenes and sex talk to pique the interest of those looking for a bit of that sort of thing. Morrissey is involved in most of it, first having violent sex with a colleague and then learning that turnabout is fairplay in his dalliance with Stone. Before then, Glass spies on Catherine in the midst of an orgy, but when her sex partner turns up dead, we probably could have done without hearing Thewlis making sarcastic remarks about jacking the corpse off. The camera also didn’t need to spend so much time lingering on the corpse’s naked ass. Sure, it sounds scandalous, but fourteen years later, it’s just not as shocking, especially when far more creative filmmakers like Atom Egoyan (“Where the Truth Lies”) and Francois Ozon (“Swimming Pool”) have done so much more with the genre.
Despite the many problems, the movie does look good in terms of its design and cinematography. London looks amazing, and the production, set design and wardrobe are really sharp and stylish, but it’s a shame that so much time and money was spent making the movie look good when the script wasn’t up to snuff.
The Bottom Line:
The problem with “Basic Instinct 2″ is not just that it’s bad, but that it’s boring, flat and lacks the sense of danger and thrills that made the first movie so memorable. It also comes out after a period of time where the genre it helped fuel has run its course due to the abundance of cheap knock-offs, most of which are better than this. If your own basic instinct is to avoid this movie, then you probably should go with that.