"You were born to be on the small screen," Adam Towers (Hugh Dancy) tells psychiatrist Michael Glass (David Morrissey) early on in "Basic Instinct 2." He could just as easily be referring to actor David Morrissey (2005's "Derailed
"), although to say he has what it takes for the television medium still is giving him too much credit. There are some fantastic performances on the small screen, after all, any number of whom could act circles around this badly miscast guy. Morrissey, as bland and uninteresting as Michael Douglas was intense and compelling fourteen years ago, doesn't even scratch the surface of how this sorry excuse for a sequel goes wrong, but it is symbolic of the overall picture's stunning inferiority.
Having rewatched 1992's "Basic Instinct" in the last week, the original remains fresh on my mindfresher than "Basic Instinct 2," which ended a half-hour ago. A lurid, sexy, suspenseful, exciting and altogether deliciously over-the-top thriller, "Basic Instinct" was fearless in embracing its trashier side, even as it developed into a respectably classy potboiler with Alfred Hitchcock's inspiration lovingly stamped upon every minute. Nearly a decade and a half later, "Basic Instinct 2" has finally come to pass, albeit with subdued audience anticipation, but if this was the best continuation they could come up with they should have left well enough alone. Director Michael Caton-Jones (2002's "City by the Sea
"), taking over for Paul Verhoeven, doesn't have a clue what made the first film such a classic, nor do screenwriters Leora Barish and Henry Bean, whose writing isn't quite campy enough to be entertaining or good enough to be taken seriously. Together, these folks have created something that its predecessor never was: boring.
When a car being driven by sultry novelist Catherine Trammell (Sharon Stone) runs off a London bridge and crashes into the water, she escapes unscathed. Her passenger, a star football player who was high at the time and in the middle of pleasuring Catherine, isn't so lucky. Facing possible murder charges if it is proven she was at fault, Catherine is sent to be mentally accessed by Dr. Michael Glass. There is a sexual spark between the twoor at least there is supposed to beand after the case is dismissed, Catherine comes back for more, insisting that Michael take her as a patient for therapy sessions. It isn't long after she turns on the mind games and Michael irresistibly is drawn into this shady femme fatale
's web that a series of murders occur, each victim related in some way to the two of them. Is Catherine up to her alleged old tricks again as she pens a new murder-mystery about a therapist, or is someone else out to frame her?
Besides making the original look like a modern cinematic masterpiece in comparison, "Basic Instinct 2" is a turkey of a sequel that, in its tendency to shoot scene after tedious scene of characters sitting around talking and not doing much else, disturbingly reminds of "The Exorcist II." It is safe to say no sane filmmaker would wish for their work to appear in the same sentence as that notorious 1977 disaster, but director Michael Caton-Jones has managed just that. Gone from "Basic Instinct 2" is the fascinating melding of the provocatively dangerous and the arousingly sexual. Gone is the fiery chemistry between Sharon Stone and Michael Douglasor any co-star who might have been a match for herand the complicated relationship the two of them forged with one another. Gone is the glorious cinematography by Jan de Bont of San Francisco and the surrounding areas on the California coast, replaced here by drab interiors and a careless disregard for location shooting in London. And gone are the thrilling car chases and memorable murder sequences, nixed in favor of endless exposition and after-the-fact crime scenes.
Also gone are the motivations of the characters; that Catherine would not only seek Dr. Michael Glass out after her charges are dropped but also insist that he be her therapist is stunningly ludicrous and inexplicable. When she isn't MIA for long stretches of time, the viewer is left to ask what Catherine is doing there at all. She has little to do with the core storyline, and her "romance," if one can call it that, with Michael is so frivolous as to seem nonexistent. Who Michael is as a person is also never explored to any degree, so it doesn't make sense that he would be willing to risk everything for this ice princess. Collectively, Michael and Catherine have the carnal connection of a clump of wet twigs.
In the role of Michael Glass, a fresh corpse could emote the same amount as David Morrissey. Sharon Stone (2005's "Broken Flowers
"), the star attraction and whole reason for this movie's existence, slips between comfortably reprising the elusive, animalistic Catherine Trammell and vamping it up as a caricaturized version of the character. Where there once were shades of vulnerability behind her iron exterior sits just a stone gate this time. Stone also briefly shows some skinand looks great at the age of 48but like the terribly chopped-up sex scenes, the nudity is a cheap cop-out when placed next to the former pic's leg-opening action. Of the supporting players, only Charlotte Rampling (2001's "Spy Game
"), as Michael's concerned colleague Milena Gardosh, gets the chance to make an impression.
An erotic thriller absent of thrills and about as titillating as scratching your nose, "Basic Instinct 2" is a worthless attempt to revisit an iconic motion picture that didn't need revisiting. In addition to Sharon Stone's participation, the sleek, haunting theme music by Jerry Goldsmith is practically the only other element branching the two. It might as well have not been there at all, as it only is cause to get sentimental for how well the 1992 film was done. Concluding with an arbitrary, vague payoff that would only serve to open up a whole new set of questions if audiences weren't already fast asleep by this point, the thoroughly unsexy, constantly pointless "Basic Instinct 2" might well rank as a first in the history of erotic cinema: a widespread cause for temporary erectile dysfunction.