‘Instinct’ replays original

Reeling it in

Posted: Thursday, April 06, 2006

As pickings were slim this week on the Kenai, and since I had to be in Anchorage anyway, I thought I’d use this week’s review to see and critique something cool and different that you can only see in the big city. Unfortunately, pickings were slim all over, and I fell into the same trap that led my poor father to go watch “Booty Call.” I went to see the first thing showing at the time I got to the theater. Lucky me. “Basic Instinct 2.”

You might imagine that audiences, male audiences, anyway, would be flocking to see this movie. And I’ll admit, I had a slight prurient interest in the film, myself. I mean, Sharon Stone, whatever else you can say about her, is still hot. Too bad for her that her career no longer is, which is the only reason I can imagine she would have taken this role.

Stone reprises her role from the original 1992 blockbuster. “Basic Instinct” was original, though incredibly trashy and overblown. Part 2, however, does little more than rehash and replay. Stone is Catherine Tramell, a sociopathic author who makes sport of leading the police and their forensic psychologists around by their noses. Both films revolve around the idea that she may or may not have killed one of her lovers. The cops think she did it, but she claims innocence.

Enjoying the “risk” of it all, Tramell then leads everyone to think she did do it, all the while seducing those closest to her. This is both movies, really. The only real difference between this film and the original is that, A) part 2 doesn’t include Michael Douglas, who must not be as hurtin’ for a paycheck, and B) the direction and look of the film is far less energetic.

“Basic Instinct 2” takes place in London, as opposed to the San Franciscan setting of the first film. The gray English sky and gray English streets don’t do much to liven the mood. Here, instead of Michael Douglas’ conflicted cop, we have David Morrissey as a conflicted psychiatrist. Naturally he becomes obsessed with his ne’er-do-well client, which will naturally bring about his downfall, as well as everyone around him.

The real problem with this film, and films like it, is that the characters behave so ridiculously. We are expected to believe that everyone harbors deep and terrible secrets, and they would do anything to cover them up. We also are asked to buy into the idea that everyone is essentially corrupt.

I accept neither of these assumptions, and as a result, movies like this seem so senseless. For example, if everyone thinks Tramell is guilty, why not simply gather evidence and then charge and convict her? Not in this world, no, that would be too easy. First the police have to make some sort of mistake and are forced to set her free. Then, they let her into their lives, their circles, giving her access to emotional weapons that she will use against them. And the worst part is, they all know it’s going to happen.

Most of the dialogue in the beginning consists of various authorities sagely warning each other, “don’t get too close, she’s dangerous. You don’t know what she’s capable of.” So much is made of how smart she is, but to me she feels more like a spoiled brat, playing both sides against each other, simply for the sake of chaos.

What keeps this movie from being a straight-to-Skinamax release is Stone’s participation, which is ironic since she is, by far, the worst actor in the production. For the first half of the film, her lines are pure monotone, a method often mistaken for menace by B-List stars. After a while she finds her inner vixen, but by then, the movie has become so ridiculous plot-wise, that she comes off as a joke.

Morrissey isn’t awful and is more reminiscent of a young Liam Neeson than anything else. David Thewlis is adequate as a detective on the hunt for Tramell, but nothing to write home about.

“Basic Instinct 2” was going to have the subtitle “Risk Addiction,” and of all that’s wrong with this trashy skin flick, that moniker is appropriate, if only for the star. “Catwoman” would have been enough of a professional implosion for most people. Having a brain tumor might give one pause about the legacy you, as an actor, will leave behind. But not Sharon Stone. Nope, she just keeps laying it all out there, and if she’s not careful, her career is going to wind up dead. Grade: D-

“Basic Instinct 2” is rated R for language, violence, and graphic sexual scenes.

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

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