Catherine Tramell: Sharon Stone
Dr. Michael Glass: David Morrissey
Milena Gardosh: Charlotte Rampling
Roy Washburn: David Thewlis
Adam Tower: Hugh Dancy
Denise Glass: Indira Varma
Dr. Jakob Gerst: Heathcote Williams
MGM/Columbia Pictures presents a film directed by Michael Canton-Jones. Written by Leora Barish and Henry Bean. Running time: 113 min. Rated R (for strong sexuality, nudity, violence, language and some drug content).
Why would I even bother to rent one of the worst reviewed movies of the year so far? Because like anyone, I have guilty pleasures, and upon its theatrical release, many of the reviews of “Basic Instinct 2” suggested that this film fell in that “so bad it’s good” category reserved for a special kind of cinematic disaster. Roger Ebert included a footnote in his review of the film that said, “My 1½-star rating is like a cold shower, designed to take my mind away from giving it four stars.”
While not being a big fan of the original “Basic Instinct”, but not hating it either, I thought I might just openly relish the film in a way Ebert was unwilling to admit with his star rating (but quite readily admitted in his written review). And with my recent generosity for awarding stars, I was ready to let every one know it at first glance. But alas, it was not to be.
Yes, it is a bad movie. Yes, it has some moments that would fit right into an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (without the “Science” anyway). But it’s a film that takes itself far too seriously-- as if some of its audience members might actually be buying into its absurd plot-- to deserve the suggestion that it just might be so awful as to touch upon some form of demented genius.
The film opens with a fairly spectacular sequence in which thriller novelist Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone reprising her sultry role from the original film) drives a speeding car through London and into the river Thames during a sexual act. Tramell escapes the wreck, but is suspected of murdering the soccer star who was in the car with her.
Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey, “Derailed”) is assigned to Tramell to assess her mental state. He determines that Tramell has a “risk addiction”, a phrase that is then endlessly bandied about for the remainder of the film. “You have a risk addiction.” “I don’t have a risk addiction.” “How bad is her risk addiction?” “Maybe you’re the one with a risk addiction.” “Maybe I do have a risk addiction.” “Does her risk addiction make her dangerous to others?” “You’re the risk addiction expert.” In fact, the original title of the script was “Risk Addiction.” Now, that’s shocking!
Shocking the audience with the sexual audacity of its characters is really what the film is about. The convoluted plot only exists as an excuse to invite the audience into the sexual perversity of the characters, and this may very well be what the target audience of “Basic Instinct 2” is looking for. It is a film filled with sexy people yearning to jump in the sack with each other. Of course, many of them prefer a plastic sack over their heads during sex. Even the sets and locations seem to have a sexuality about them.
It can certainly be said that Stone has not lost that sexual appeal that skyrocketed her to stardom with “Basic Instinct”. She drips sex, and the wardrobe designers don’t miss a chance to throw her into loin rattling outfits. There aren’t many women outside her character who would feel comfortable in the sheer, squeaking and stretched clothes she wears.
Of course, all of this sex would be wonderful for a good old fashioned porno, but unfortunately this is not pornography. Pornography wouldn’t require you to pay attention to such an over-involved plot, or the indulgent dialogue like this winning exchange:
“Kevin Franks died. You don’t seem very worried.”
“I’m devastated… I may never cum again.”
OK, I guess the dialogue resembles pornography too, only here you’re actually expected to care what they’re talking about.
The biggest bafflement is the involvement of such distinguished British actors as Charlotte Rampling and David Thewlis. Rampling plays a colleague of Dr. Glass who inexplicably warns him away from Tramell and uncharacteristically seems sexually attracted to her as well. Rampling can be seen in a much better sexual thriller, “Swimming Pool”, which I would recommend even over finishing this review.
Thewlis, who can be seen in such recent films as “Kingdom of Heaven”, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, and “The New World”, here finds himself as a detective possibly a little too determined to bring Tramell down. He lands the regrettable task of providing the film’s biggest laugh in its grandest moment of absurdity. This was the type of unintended camp I was looking forward to when I rented the film, but alas it comes too late to save any face.
I believe Ebert was correct to call for a cold shower after viewing this film, but that shower has two purposes and soap is required for both of them.