It’s time for a hate-watch, so let me save you some time; the second and final instalment of the Basic Instinct franchise is a complete bust. Indeed, the story of how the film came to exist is as mixed up as the film itself; the tough cops vs flighty female writer conflict seen in Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 original seemed to have plenty of juice, but quickly ran out of gas. The reluctance of star Michael Douglas to return to the central role of Nick Conklin was the first obstacle for Basic Instinct 2, but a series of strange decisions doomed it to failure.
So, let’s weigh up the substitutions, as in a grocery order during lockdown. We’re fresh out of gleaming, hazy San Francisco locations, so will you accept, erm, mental hospitals and London’s Canary Wharf instead? And with no Michael Douglas as a maverick cop, as a substitute, we’d be prepared to throw in Brit tv actor David Morrissey as psychiatrist Dr Michael Glass? What’s that? You’re going off the whole idea? Wait, how about David Thewlis as a macho police boss? Footballer Stan Collymore as a footballer seduced by Catherine Trammell into crashing his car off a bridge? Iain Robertson as a sleazy Scottish reporter? No, don’t get up and walk away, come back what about… Charlotte Rampling? Hugh Dancy? the late poet Heathcote Williams?
Yup, Basic Instinct 2 has a truly bizarre cast, but none of this makes up for a central lack of direction. While it might have made sense to make Stone’s amoral Catherine Trammell the main character here, Basic Instinct 2 settles for a downgraded remake of the first film, with Trammell taunting Glass as he attempts to solve a string of murders. Stone’s doe-eyed, super-glam presence in a desperately tatty-looking London feels improbable, but so do the notions of British police-work here, and the bursts of frenetic sexual activity never tap into any sense of the primal or verboten.
And yet, Basic Instinct 2 has one good card to play, and that’s the ending, presumably left over from Henry Bean’s script. Spoiler alert; in the final scene, Glass is in an institution when Trammell visits him and claims that he was the killer all along, and she has been gaslighting him into believing that she is the killer. The original film worked hard at a premise where Trammell could be guilty or innocent; it’s unfortunate that Basic Instinct 2 makes Trammell seem guilty as sin from the get-go, but this IS a tricky notion, essentially taking the entire second movie to get to where we were at the end of the first. Michael Caton-Jones’ film was reputedly made because producers had signed a pay-or-play deal with Stone; she had to be paid whether the film was made or not, so it got made as cheaply as possible. In the end, there’s no real winners here, but lovers of cheesy, ridiculous so-bad-its-good thrillers will at least notch this one up as a score draw. So get your DVD’s and sports socks here, just £1.50 for your Basic Instinct 2 DVD from Amazon via the link below….