Now living in London, crime-thriller novelist Catherine Trammell is arrested on suspicion of murder after being involved in a sex- and drug-fueled car accident that leaves her lover dead. Her crass lack of emotion prompts police detective Roy Washburn to bring in psychiatrist Dr. Michael Glass to determine if she poses a risk to herself or others. Although Michael testifies that she is indeed dangerous, Catherine is released on a technicality but visits the doctor for treatment of her "risk addiction." Against his own professional ethics, Michael agrees, and Catherine begins trying to seduce him.
Then people start dying—people who pose a risk to Michael's career, people sexually involved with Catherine, people being questioned by police detective Roy Washburn. As the victims pile up, Michael finds himself developing a deeper sexual attachment to Catherine even while becoming more convinced that she's a cold-blooded killer.
A reporter says he "prays to God" that someone is a killer because it would make a good story. Another character compares a prominent psychiatrist to God and jokes about praying for his arrival.
Those with any familiarity with the first Basic Instinct film won't be surprised to learn that the sexual content in this outing is aggressive, pervasive and unrelenting. The camera witnesses Catherine fully nude more than once and in multiple graphic sexual situations that feature sexual sounds, movement, rough "activities" (including erotic asphyxiation) and one glimpse of her in the midst of some kind of orgy. She also uses graphic and extremely crude language to describe sex-related circumstances both in conversations with men (to shock and seduce) and in voiced-over narratives from her books.
Another couple is shown nude having rough sex. In addition, the camera lingers on two partially unclothed corpses of men killed in the act of having sex, both with leather belts around their necks; crass, graphic language is used to describe what they were doing and how they died. A large naked man is seen being whipped by a woman in a leather outfit. Catherine claims or hints that she slept with two other female characters (not shown).
Adding to the perversity of Basic Instinct 2 is the connection between sex and murderous violence. In addition to the scenes described above, a sex-caused car accident leads to a drowning death, and a woman is discovered in a bathroom stall with her throat slit and covered in blood. In addition, a man is punched, another nearly drowns a nude woman in a hot tub, and one character fatally shoots another. Finally, a concluding flashback shows all the murders in more graphic detail.
Crude or Profane Language
In addition to around 10 misuses of God's and Jesus' names, the f-word is heard about two-dozen times. More pervasive is "dirty talk" that includes extremely obscene slang for male and female anatomy and various sex acts.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Pivotal to the (daft) story line is the question of whether Catherine drugged a man with something lethal while they were injecting other drugs. She and other characters smoke and drink throughout the film.
Other Negative Elements
It seems almost pointless to mention in light of the movie's thick layer of sexual and violent muck, but virtually every character seems to be lying about something. Or maybe everything. It's hard to tell. Either way, deception is the rule. Even the police detective admits to falsifying evidence to bring down bad guys.
Back in 1992, the original boundaries-tromping Basic Instinct nearly garnered an NC-17 rating for content that managed to outrage both vocal conservative groups and homosexual activists. The disturbing and graphic tale of sex and murder also became a worldwide box-office hit and propelled Sharon Stone to an odd stardom.
Fourteen years later, Basic Instinct 2 seems unlikely to inspire either outrage or ticket sales. The artlessness with which director Michael Caton-Jones constructs this ridiculous movie makes the whole queasy effort feel like some mid-'90s made-for-cable, late-night skin flick. When not utterly incomprehensible, the plot plods through a swamp of inane dialogue as characters spew psychobabble and misdirection. By the time the credits rolled, the bewildering double-reverse cop-out ending left me even less interested in figuring out who killed whom and why.
The boredom and confusion are, however, punctuated by scenes that define the word lurid. The 48-year-old Stone and Co. seem bent on showing us everything—and then a little more. It reminded me of the comedian who said she wasn't sick but made an appointment with her doctor because she'd been working out and wanted someone to see her naked. Stone is obviously in great shape for her age, but I would've gladly taken her word for it. The crass sexual dialogue and images are so forcefully pushed at the screen that they amplify the film's utter lack of discretion, entertainment value and meaning. In a word: ick.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell; David Morrissey as Michael Glass; David Thewlis as Roy Washburn; Charlotte Rampling as Dr. Milena Gardosh; Hugh Dancy as Adam Towers
Michael Caton-Jones (City by the Sea, The Jackal, Rob Roy, Doc Hollywood, Memphis Belle)
Christopher Lyon Christopher Lyon