Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5
Germany/United Kingdom/USA/Spain, 2006. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, C-2 Pictures, Intermedia Films, IMF Internationale Medien und Film GmbH & Co. 2. Produktions KG, Kanzaman, Grosvenor Park Media. Screenplay by Leora Barish, Henry Bean, based on characters created by Joe Eszterhas. Cinematography by Gyula Pados. Produced by Joel B. Michaels, Andrew G. Vajna. Music by John Murphy. Production Design by Norman Garwood. Costume Design by Beatrix Aruna Pasztor. Film Editing by Istvan Kiraly, John Scott.
In the opening scene of this sequel to the 1992 Paul Verhoeven-Joe Eszterhas headliner, Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) drives her sports car at top speed through London’s strangely deserted night streets while having her footballer boyfriend fingerfuck her into an orgasmic frenzy: my basic instinct is that this girl and I could become really good friends. When the car ends up at the bottom of the river and the dead boyfriend is found to have been poisoned with a barbiturate before drowning, Stone finds herself smoking her dangerously ladylike cigarettes at police headquarters while being questioned by a psychiatrist (David Morrissey) who is assessing her sanity before she is tried for murder.
The rest of the story is pretty much a retread of the original, with Morrissey the hapless fool who can’t resist Stone’s dangerous thighs and classy London substituting for flashy San Francisco. The trouble here is that Stone is no longer having the same amount of fun playing the character as she did fourteen years earlier; she just seems too smart to deliver many of the more ridiculous lines that fall out of her stony gaze and constantly cat-slit eyes. Of course, it doesn’t help that director Michael Caton-Jones doesn’t have the same relish for pushing the boundaries of genre (and taste) the way Verhoeven does, or that Morrissey is too ridiculously easy a foil for our dangerous heroine. Michael Douglas’s Nick Curran was scary and hard-edged and gave Stone’s claws a better brand of yarn to toy with than Morrissey’s desperate introvert; you know he’ll just cream his pants if she lets him pick the shoes she wears to walk all over him in.
It’s really not a film worth bothering with, especially if you’re a fan of the superb leading lady who, unfortunately, is entering Joan Crawford territory here (right down to the makeup job that looks like a vat of foundation was hooked up to a garden hose and sprayed on her with an electrically powered paint-roller) and threatens to diminish the classy superstar status that she has built up so well since her Hollywood debut. Charlotte Rampling appears in the film’s most appealing performance, while David Thewlis fills the role of the dirty cop who may or may not be too crooked to go after Ms. Tramell successfully.