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If you’re looking for proof that the world is a different place post-Janet Jackson, look no further than Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction, a movie watered down to the point that it doesn’t deserve any association with the original, sex and violence filled 1992 film from which it takes its name. Where Basic Instinct had murder, blood, strange sex, crazy sex, disturbed sex, and gratuitous nudity; Risk Addiction has talking and more talking. A full fifteen minutes of the movie’s wildest (and therefore most interesting) footage was cut from the film in order to placate the MPAA into giving them an R-rating. With that as a measuring stick, if the first Basic Instinct was released today it’d almost certainly be slapped with a box office killing NC-17.
The movie’s opening scene shows promise. A now much older (yet still overly sexual) Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) blasts through the credits, driving her Euro sports car through the streets of London at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour while her heavily drugged boyfriend explores the underside of her dress. She loses control and the car flies off the road, explodes through a plate glass window and somehow ends up (with Catherine’s foot still heavy on the accelerator) plummeting into a river. Catherine escapes her sinking speedster, her boyfriend does not. It’s all downhill from there.
The police don’t think her boyfriend’s death was an accident, and Catherine is investigated for murder. Catherine’s response is one of almost homicidal indifference, and so the cops send her for a psychiatric evaluation with Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey). Glass ends up as Catherine’s new plaything. He’s patently unable to see through her most obvious deceptions, he’s an unusually stupid man and one who has no business as a psychiatrist. She plays him like a fiddle, teasing and taunting and pulling and pushing while he fumbles about in an ineffectual, half-hearted attempt to figure out what Tramell is up to.
In the end, when he’s utterly confused and has no idea who to believe, Glass solves the problem by randomly shooting the first person he sees. What’s frustrating is that there is no mystery and there’s really no reason for his confusion. The answers are obvious, any idiot can see it and the fact that the movie’s main character can’t is ultimately frustrating.
The mystery’s a bust, but so is everything else in the film. Most of the movie’s harder edged moments end up happening off camera. Imagine if Sharon Stone’s famous leg crossing scene in the original was filmed with the camera over her shoulder so you couldn’t see what she was doing. That’s the philosophy of the MPAA whipped Basic Instinct 2, a movie with a title that touts risk addiction, but is itself unwilling to take any risks. All two of the movie’s thirty second sex scenes have been reduced to Hollywoodized, nudity hiding, missionary position. The same is true of the movie’s murders, all of which either happen off camera or bloodlessly. Where’s Tramell and her bloody ice pick of doom? Come on now, stab somebody!
Tramell can’t stab anyone, Sharon Stone is too busy mugging. There’s not a moment of screen time in which Stone isn’t overacting or posing or smirking for the camera. If there was ever any subtlety in the character of Catherine Tramell, it’s been abandoned for this iteration. It’s the worst performance of Sharon’s career, a career which has seen quite a few bad performances It’s not just that she’s too old to still be playing this sort of character (which she is), it’s also that she clearly no long has any idea who or what the character is. The result is total character confusion. The film’s poorly written script is already pretty inconsistent; but Sharon’s hammy, all over the map acting only makes it more so.
Risk Addiction is a total mess. Watering it down to suit the MPAA’s puritanical demands didn’t help it, but the movie’s a piece of crap with or without those missing fifteen minutes of really wild stuff. There’s nothing erotic or thrilling in this supposed erotic thriller, just a lot of talky filler that leads absolutely nowhere. Let’s be honest: Anyone interested in seeing a sequel to Basic Instinct is only going for depraved fucking or bloody coitus killing. Risk Addiction has neither. When the unrated version hits DVD in a few months, some of that will be back in, but do you really want to see 47-year-old Sharon Stone doing any of that anyway? Her time has passed and the only interesting thing here is trying to figure out which parts of her are fake. I’m betting on her face.