Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction

Movie Information

Genre: Phony Psychological Thriller
Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Starring: Sharon Stone, David Morrissey, Charlotte Rampling, David Thewlis, Hugh Dancy
Rated: R

Since it’s the question that seems to be central to this film, let me state from the outset that, no, unlike its predecessor, there is nothing of gynecological import in Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction. Perhaps that’s the “Risk” of the title, because certainly nothing else about this fantastically botched attempt to revive Sharon Stone’s sagging career is the least bit risky.

There are rumors that as much as 15 minutes were trimmed from the final film in order to get it down to an “R” rating, though, so those who are so inclined can look forward (freeze-frame buttons at the ready) to the possibility of a director’s cut when the movie hits DVD — something it should do in record time.

Not since Michael Cristofer’s Original Sin has the screen been graced with so much overheated trash, though Original Sin had the sense to realize it was what it was and emerged as a kind of trash masterpiece. Basic Instinct 2 thinks it’s profoundly artistic and the results are profoundly tedious. This, I suspect, can be blamed on director Michael Caton-Jones, whose films have always aspired to pretensions far beyond their worth (City by the Sea, anyone?)

Oddly, the film starts on a high-point of trash madness with novelist Catherine Trammell (Stone), homicidal and previously bi-sexual (that aspect of her character from the original has gone south), driving a sports car at 110 mph through the streets of London in the dead of night, while she engages in indelicate acts with the hand of her largely comatose soccer-star consort. Just as she attains the height of ecstasy, she spectacularly plunges the car into the river, leaving her paramour to drown after a half-hearted attempt at releasing his seat belt.

OK, that’s some opening, and the film keeps this preposterous tone for the next few minutes, when it transpires that the hapless swain had been injected with curare (haven’t seen that poison dragged into a movie in a while) and was dead before he could drown, prompting Det. Roy Washburn (David Thewlis, The New World) to shout that he wants that — insert rude term for female body part here — locked up.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, which arrives here with the entrance of psychiatrist Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey, Derailed), who has been appointed to determine whether La Trammell should be released on bail.

I don’t know who decided to cast the blandly good-looking Morrissey (think Liam Neeson and water), but it smacks a lot of the days when Jeanette MacDonald opted for the human cigar-store Indian known as Nelson Eddy as a co-star, after four movies where she was overshadowed by Maurice Chevalier. If this was indeed Stone’s decision, she was right to the degree that she wouldn’t be overshadowed by Morrissey — Ben Chaplin couldn’t be overshadowed by Morrissey!

The problem is that his is a large role (probably larger than Stone’s) and his flatness in it casts into sharp relief both Stone’s fantasticatedly awful overacting and the script’s demands that Glass be slow on the uptake. It’s supposed to be a cat-and-mouse game between them, but it emerges as a cat and mentally challenged rodent game. I kept expecting Trammell to turn and directly address the camera with Peter Lorre’s old line from You’ll Find Out, “Why do I have to waste my time outwitting morons?” Frankly, that would have helped.

The plot — and there’s a lot of it — is too convoluted to matter; basically, Trammell gets out on a technicality and goes to Glass for treatment. Soon people in his sphere start being murdered, he starts unraveling, loses a shot at a university position offered by a famous shrink (Heathcote Williams, who appears to be wearing an entire Persian cat for a wig), becomes obsessed with Trammell and … you get the idea. By the end, it’s unclear as to who killed whom and why in one of those truth-or-illusion approaches. The sad thing is, you won’t care.

As for Stone, yes, she has some fairly minimal nudity — including breasts, which, unlike her career, are not sagging, but are suspiciously motionless — and she stalks around looking sinister by narrowing her eyes a lot. That’s about it.

As to the famous ice pick of the original — it makes a jokey, late-in-the-day appearance for no very good reason except to remind us of the first film. That makes the final score: Ice Picks 1, Crotch Shots, 0. Rated R for strong sexuality, nudity, violence, language and some drug content.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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