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How Not to Come…Up with a Sequel

By Jeremy Mathews
Basic Instinct 2
1/2 (out of four)
Columbia Pictures
Directed by Michael Caton-Jones

Screenplay by Leora Barish & Henry Bean

Starring Sharon Stone, David Morrissey, Charlotte Rampling, David Thewlis, Hugh Dancy, Anne Caillon, Iain Robertson, Stan Collymore and Kata Dobó
Rated R

I get the feeling that the only reason that "Basic Instinct 2" was shown to critics is so they might report that, 14 years after its predecessor, Sharon Stone still has a nice body. The shoddy sequel to the sex-charged mystery thriller has no enjoyable sex (and not much unenjoyable sex either, to secure an R rating) and no thrills.

The film is a cheap knock-off that repeats ad nauseam a few elements of the original "Basic Instinct," which, let's face it, wasn't successful because it was that great of a thriller, but because it had some controversial sex and a vagina close-up.

The dialogue is so bad that I'm not sure if it's fair to blame the actors for their awkward performances. If you take away every play on the multiple meanings of the word "come," Stone would be playing a near-mute who occasionally makes comments like, "You know, some men like blondes, other men like killers."

Stone reprises her role as Catherine Tramell, an awful author of trashy sex-filled murder mysteries who apparently finds herself entangled in a series of murders whenever she writes a new book. Suspicious, no? This time, she's in London and is suspected of murder after she drives her paralyzed lover into the river at 100 miles per hour while sticking his hand in her crotch and having an orgasm. Underwater, she tries for a moment to get him free, then swims to safety herself. Her lover had some paralyzation-inducing drugs in his system, which the police suspect she gave to him. The question of murder or accident is never explicitly answered, so I guess it depends on the individual viewer's interpretation of how much the victim man had to do with the orgasm.

David Morrissey plays Dr. Michael Glass, the psychiatrist assigned to mentally evaluate Tramell for the police department. He determines that she has an addiction to risk and advises she be locked up. But it turns out that Detective Roy Washburn (David Thewlis) had a weak case, and she gets out and asks Glass to be her personal shrink.

While it's not conventional to take on patients he evaluated for the police, Tramell is just too damn sexy and intriguing for Dr. Glass to turn down. A clumsy subplot involves mental nagging from one of his past cases, which is mildly related to patient confidentiality but more strongly related to his tragic inability to detect oncoming violence. If he suspects that Tramell will kill someone, he's supposed to report it to the police. If he doesn't, he ethically can't tell the potentially sinister detective Washburn anything.

None of the attempts at intrigue are at all intriguing. Even as the people around Dr. Glass are murdered with increasing frequency, there's no narrative pull to find out who is behind the deaths. The film is only concerned with jerking the audience around, so there's no point in making any sort of effort to keep the story straight.

The film attempts to emulate the first film's ambiguous mystery. The hero goes crazy trying to choose between two suspects, resulting in an unintentionally comedic climax (not that kind) in which he still can't make his damn mind up. The "surprise twist" in the denouement, it should be noted, makes no sense. But maybe part of the twist was that it wasn't supposed to.

I reckon that most people who see the film will counter this twist with yet another: After about 30 minutes, they gave up caring either way.

jeremy [at]


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