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They came up with a decent story of the sequel, but Sharon Stone neeeded a stronger co-star
le 15 juillet 2006
The reason the original "Basic Instinct" stands out in my mind is not because of Sharon Stone's infamous interrogation scene, or the bit with the ice pick under the bed. I remember it because the 1992 film represented to me the end of an era defined by the O.J. Simpson trial, and today epitomized by the myriad "C.S.I." television shows. "Basic Instinct" begins with the murder of Johnny Boz, a rock and roll star who is stabbed with an ice pick in bed after a night of torrid sex. His girlfriend, Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), is a prime suspect but the police are unable to connect her with the crime. Now, keep in mind that at the murder scene the bed is fairly soaked with at least three different types of bodily fluids, of which one is not going to be the victim's. A good crime lab and the case is solved, but this was not that type of movie and its sequel is required to be in a similar vein.
The problem with making a sequel to "Basic Instinct" is that faced by any effort to have lightning strike twice. You have to do it again but do it differently, a fine line to try and walk. Actually, the script by Leora Barish ("Desperately Seeking Susan) and Henry Bean ("Internal Affairs") come up with something that does the job, the only problem is you are not aware of this until the movie is over and you have to rethink everything you have just seen. This creates a new problem, in that you actually have to watch this movie twice to determine how good it is because nobody is going to be able to judge retroactively if they pulled it off the first time you watch the film. This is a significant problem because there are people who are not going to want to see "Basic Instinct 2" once, let alone twice.
You watch this 2006 film knowing that you have take everything Catherine says and does as being part of her plan. The question is what is the plan. We are in London and Catherine is out enjoying her only peculiar brand of auto-erotica, when the guy ends up dead. Inspector Roy Washburn (David Thewlis) does not buy the innocent act and wants her head. The court orders her to undergo a psychological evaluation by Michael Glass (David Morrissey), who tells the world Catherine is suffering, for lack of a better word, from risk addiction and that things will only get worse. He means that she will end up dead, but of course it is other people who start ending up corpses, but not until the film requires us to suspend our disbelief to make the plot work. This is when Catherine becomes Michael's patient.
Now, this is wrong on so many levels, but without it the story is not going to work so you have to just shake your head and go on. Even knowing what she is much better than most, Michael becomes obsessed with her, while she toys with him in just about every way possible. He is doomed and it is just a question of how Catherine wants to bring him down, although you are right to pay attention to the nagging voice that tells you there has to be more to it than that. It is just that this guy has no chance against Catherine, even if he has Washburn and super shrink Milena Gardosh (Charlotte Rampling) on his side. This is mostly because of the characters and certainly because of the writing, but also because where as Michael Douglas could sort of catch up with Sharon Stone, I never believe that David Morrissey has a chance.
Stone looks great, and not just when she is naked, because what stands out in this performance is her eyes (I keep thinking "shark" eyes, but that might be underestimating the situation) and the way that makes her dirty talk such an effective sexual come on (it is not easy, but do not try it at home because I do not want to be responsible for disasters of an intimate nature). I was almost going to round up on "Basic Instinct 2," because I did go back and watch it a second time to see how it reads once you know what is "really" going on (and they were right not to go with the alternate ending because the more subtle approach preserves the requisite sense of ambiguity). On balance, I think the alternative reading works more than it does not, but there are a couple of points where they play it too far the other way to make sure we buy into it the way they want to set up the final revelation. Given the circumstances of the sequel, the script is certainly ambitious, but without a co-star on the same level as Stone in the final analysis "Basic Instinct 2" just cannot carry it off.