Review: Basic Instinct 2

Michael Caton-Jones’s sequel feels spayed whenever Sharon Stone isn’t on screen.

Basic Instinct 2
Photo: Columbia Pictures

The striking opening scene of Basic Instinct 2, in which Catherine Davis Tramell (Sharon Stone) drives herself and a zonked-out rugby player into a river during an orgasm, visually encapsulates everything you need to know about Stone’s character and everything that’s wrong with the film. She swims to the surface, leaving the man trapped inside the car, which evokes a penis losing its erection. The film, likewise, is a total downer. Fourteen years after the original Basic Instinct, the aged vintage between Catherine’s legs is wrecking havoc all over a blue-and-grey London that seems to revolve around a phallus-shaped Epcot Center out of which psychiatrist Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey) dispenses steely advice. Same gist and whodunit non-ending as the original (Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar-nominated score is recycled ad nauseum, suggesting a molesting presence in a comatose film), which was no masterpiece but still had sizzle. Michael Caton-Jones’s sequel feels spayed whenever Stone isn’t on screen—his color palette brings to mind a piece of dried-out flint that couldn’t even spark a campfire—and desperate whenever she’s on. You see, Stone doesn’t so much enter and leave the film of her own volition so much as she’s carted on and off like Hannibal Lecter, the difference being that she’d rather sit and cum on your face than bite it off. The extent of the woman’s sexual agency is penetrating the space-time continuum with her gaze: even when she’s on television it’s as if she’s looking through the camera and at Morrissey’s wet-noodle character sitting at home. Best unintentionally hilarious scene: the animal pose Catherine strikes while putting the finishing touches to her latest novel. She writes so badly even Harry Knowles wouldn’t publish her on his site (unless he already knew what she looked like), which is surprising given how much time and consideration she puts into coming up with witty come/cum wordplays. Worst of all, though: Catherine’s ice pick makes exactly one appearance, and it’s only to break up a chuck of frozen ice (how literal!), and certainly not with the same intensity as implied by the trailer, or the ticket stub that gave me a paper cut before seeing the movie.

 Cast: Sharon Stone, David Morrissey, Charlotte Rampling, David Thewlis, Hugh Dancy, Anne Caillon, Iain Robertson  Director: Michael Caton-Jones  Screenwriter: Leora Barish, Henry Bean  Distributor: Columbia Pictures  Running Time: 114 min  Rating: R  Year: 2006  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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