Basic Instinct has always been one of my favorite films. I adore the genre of erotic thriller because it takes a whodunnit and throws in another layer of deception using sexuality and titillation, which I find utterly interesting and very entertaining. Basic Instinct did that and it did it very well with a script that kept things eerie and mysterious and with actors that knew how to play their characters. This sequel was universally panned and it’s even on a lot of critics worst of all time lists… here are my thoughts.
Sharon Stone is the face of these films… well the face and the body. Who could forget the ever infamous leg crossing scene in the first film? To say Stone’s character uses sex to her advantage is a massive understatement, she uses both sexual desire and mind games to get what she wants. That’s ultimately what makes her character so intriguing, the way she’s able to manipulate and control people… men in particular. Stone knows exactly how to play this role, she played the hell out of it in 1992, giving what I consider to be one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. She’s still got it in this sequel, both her physical appearance and her ability to give off a dangerous energy. I’d think it must’ve been immense fun for her to play Catherine because of how much fun the character herself seems to be having throughout both films.
That’s another thing that I love about her role… she revels in what she does, her mind games and lurid sexual encounters. Her male counterpart is no longer Michael Douglas, but instead David Morrissey. I liked Morrissey most of the time, I thought he did a good job of being the man who increasingly becomes ensnared in Catherine’s games.
I enjoyed the onscreen chemistry shared by Stone and Morrissey, they were able to create an obvious sexual energy that is absolutely crucial for this film. There doesn’t need to be romantic chemistry but if there’s no sexual chemistry between them then this whole plot falls apart. A lot of critics really dumped on Stone’s performance when this was released in 2006 but I don’t share that view, I think she does a fine job here, now if you want to see a truly awful Sharon Stone performance go watch her in Catwoman. I also really admire her willingness to bare her body and be proud. I think it sends an empowering message to people that age doesn’t take away sex appeal.
While I think the two leads gave admirable performances, the supporting actors aren’t nearly as strong. David Thewlis and Hugh Dancy play supporting roles and not too convincingly I’m afraid, I will say that Dancy was worse and luckily he isn’t in much of the film. Acting aside, the plot is kind of hit and miss. The vast majority of the criticism for this film was aimed at the writing and claimed that the plot was “ludicrous”. I don’t think the plot is that bad, but it does have bits here and there that are too predictable. Morrissey’s character is too naïve and overlooks things as the film goes on. His character isn’t stupid and shouldn’t be presented as such because then the film really falls apart. But while he isn’t stupid, the film asks you to buy that he’d do certain things that are incredibly simple minded given what he knows about Stone’s character.
The middle of the film drags a little and by the end I couldn’t clearly remember what had happened towards the middle which is never a great sign. I think the plot just needed some punching up and some extra spice sprinkled on top to make things pop more. The plot does ramp up towards the end and some interesting details are thrown in but by the end you can’t help but feel that there was something missing. I think it really would’ve helped things out a lot to throw in some fresher ideas because too many of the “twists” or revelations are just too easy/expected. With these plot issues considered, I will say this: I was seldom bored watching this. No, this isn’t as good as its predecessor and the writing does suffer from a lack of fresh ideas, but it’ll keep your attention for the most part.
Basic Instinct 2 by no means reaches the quality of it’s predecessor and suffers from a lack of fresh ideas but the two leads give fine performances and it will keep your attention for the most part. This isn’t one I’d necessarily recommend with gusto or anything but if you like erotic thrillers and have already seen all the really good ones… this one isn’t as bad as most say.
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