Film

Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction (2006)

As in the first film, this premise -- that Catherine's plot is a series of lies -- is mildly interesting.

Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction

Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Cast: Sharon Stone, David Morrissey, Charlotte Rampling, David Thewlis, Hugh Dancy
MPAA rating: R
Studio: UA
First date: 2006
US Release Date: 2006-03-31 (General release)

You never thought you'd miss Joe Eszterhas. But this long un-awaited sequel appears so desperate and idea-less that his 1992 script is almost gripping by comparison. The clumsily titled Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction brings back the original's primary pleasures: campy sexual excess, twisty murder plot, Jerry Goldsmith's sinuous theme music, and of course, Sharon Stone as brilliant American novelist and (maybe) psychokiller Catherine Trammel. But while the music is repetitive and Stone is fabulous, the new movie pretty much misses on every other count.

Once again, Catherine seduces a man who thinks he's smarter than she is. And once again, she's smarter than anyone else in the film. She has relocated from San Francisco to London, and first appears in mid-rip. More specifically, she's speeding along in her Ferrari Spider, hair blowing while her date for the night -- some superstar footballer (Stan Collymore) -- complains of not being able to move. "You don't have to," she purrs, "You're in a car." While you ponder the logic of her assessment, Catherine shows just how much he doesn't need to move, as she proceeds to masturbate herself with his finger while moaning and screeching and driving that fancy vehicle into the Thames.

The several shots of Catherine gazing on the player as she makes her way to the water's the surface are the last striking images in the film, which also misses Paul Verhoeven and DP Jan de Bont 's glossy visuals. From here one, she appears in scrupulously arranged compositions, all environments indicating her icy coldness and impenetrability. One of these is the police station, where she's questioned by Detective Washburn (David Thewlis). "Did you try to help him get free?" he asks. He camera remains fixed on her perfect face, framed by perfect damp hair, "My life was more important to me than his... I'm traumatized. Who knows if I'll ever come again." Annoyed by her performance (no leg-crossing here), Washburn grumps, "I want that cunt in jail!" You see where this is likely headed.

But no. Instead of pitting Catherine against another cop (and the formidable Thewlis), the film introduces a different adversary-lover, court-appointed Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey). Following their not-so-witty exchange (in an interrogation room that resembles a penthouse foyer), this "crown shrink," as Catherine calls him, appears in court to assert that he believes she's capable of murder because she is... "risk addicted." The camera closes on Catherine in courtroom: she and this doctor fellow have got a... what do you call it?... date with destiny.

Catherine believes she has Glass' number: she notes right off that he "looks a little divorced," and he does indeed resent the current dalliances of his ex, Denise (Indira Varma) with a British-bloidy magazine writer, the odiously named Adam Towers (Hugh Dancy). Glass' office is in a sleek building that resembles a giant dildo, his mentor, Milena (Charlotte Rampling), is, well, she's Charlotte Rampling. She's also saddled with the film's silliest non sequitur: informed that Catherine just "walked out" of a session, she observes, "How Lacanian." Er, okay.

Glass makes noises about trust and shrink protocol, setting himself up for Catherine's scheme-because-she-can: she approaches Glass for further therapy (because his declaration of her "risk addiction" made her "realize I was scared"), she leans in to show cleavage, leans over his desk to sign something, and otherwise shows off the fact that she's wearing a skimpy evening-looking dress in daytime and oh yes, that her 48-year-old body is stunning. "No smoking," he says when she lights up, "It's a rule." Her new catch-phrase-in-waiting: "I don't like rules."

You know that Glass knows he's supposed to say no to therapy with Catherine, but he says yes. The rest of the movie approximates the who's-playing-whom dynamic of the first film, but without the aptly creepy Michael Douglas or the straight-up wonderful George Dzundza. (Catherine's quoting from her book, Shooter, that rewrote the first film at its own end, seems a ploy of the desperate variety.) When the terminally bland Glass learns he's only one object of Catherine's research for her new novel about a psychoanalyst (she also beds an older fellow with daunting hair), he refuses to sleep with Catherine based on some rule, leading her to declare him the poster boy for "the nightmare of shrinkdom, too many questions... nobody gets laid."

But of course, this is Basic Instinct2, which means that a lot of people get laid (though it oddly omits the girl-girl action that propelled the first film into some profitable controversy), and some of them dead to boot. As if to rebut Catherine's charge, Glass beds a colleague (Flora Montgomery) and treat her roughly while gazing on a dust-jacket photo of Catherine on his nightstand. (There's probably some mirror-stagey stuff going on here, but the movie doesn't pause for it.) Glass' seeming descent into rage and obsession follows the expected route: he frets about a promotion, observes bloody crime scenes, surveils Catherine as she has some not-so-random sex. He also shares theories with Washburn: "How do you know she's lying?" asks Glass; "Because everything that comes out of her fucking mouth is a lie!" barks Washburn.

As in the first film, this premise -- that Catherine's plot is a series of lies -- is mildly interesting (and as before, her explanation of events in her novel is cleverer than anything that comes before.) But Basic Instinct 2, however lurid and faux sensational it seems, essentially stalls out after that first big-action murder scene. While Catherine's guilt regarding specific cases might remain unknown, it also doesn't much matter. She's the Freddy Krueger of this two-film franchise, which means victims become negligible and motive immaterial. The fact that a middle-aged woman serves this function, and that the money shot is not some hideous-prosthetic-face reveal but a look at Stone's flawless breasts in a Jacuzzi, makes a tired point: in 2006, women still scare men.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image