It took awhile to get made, but Basic Instinct 2 has Sharon Stone's seductive vamp Catherine Tramell out to prove again that it's dangerous to fool her savvy crime novelist.
The end of Basic Instinct may have angered some, but with the likes of Michael Douglas and Jeanne Tripplehorn, there was much to delight in the campy approach of Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven. Not just in the uncrossing legs interrogation scene.
Verhoeven dropped out during the long delay for Stone to get the film going and ultimately Michael Caton-Jones took over. The result is a shallow, stagy look at manipulation when it comes to sex, but a high body count proves hardly intriguing. Stone catapulted her status in the original, but isn't nearly as captivating as the wicked manslayer never found guilty of the kind of acts depicted in her novels, despite looking nearly as good as when she first wielded an ice pick. Stone revealed more depth than expected in Casino, and, last year, in the sharp supporting part opposite Bill Murray in Broken Flowers.
Instead of the City by the Bay, the action is set in contemporary London with a pleasured Tramell speeding with her sleek C8 and a soccer superstar, ultimately plunging into the Thames. Said stoned sportsman doesn't escape like the steely Catherine.
Instead of Douglas' vulnerable Nick Curran, now there's Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey of Captain Corelli's Mandolin) to take on Catherine's complex personality. This psychoanalyst appears to be up to the challenge when it comes to the machinations of such an alluring, controlling risk addict.
There is a testy cop, etched with a fair amount of dignity by David Thewlis (The New World, Kingdom of Heaven) out to see our manslayer get her just desserts. The wonderful Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool) manifests cold conviction as a colleague of Glass as the pretzel-like story involves Glass' skeletons coming out of the closet about a homicidal former patient and also his ex-wife in cahoots with a tabloid writer.
While Basic Instinct 2 takes shape with phallic notions and double-entendres abounding, Caton-Jones can't keep things from being artifical, glossy, and over-the-top which doesn't help the diva bitch from doing more than posturing. The drama becomes inert as the posturing allows Stone to elicit the kind of dialogue that tries to give some edge to Greek tragedies like Oedipus. It's obvious that much of the budget highlights an elegantly modern production and set design, while the script pushes the symbolic, more abstract than the guilty pleasure needed for such a mad, predatory woman than Stone can't freshen up.