Basic Instinct 2: Defending the campy sequel on its 15th anniversary

Basic Instinct is one of the greatest thrillers of all time. So, it’s only natural that a sequel would follow. 2006’s Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction came fourteen years after the first film. It’s a lot of things. But it doesn’t deserve ALL the criticism. Though it obviously pales in comparison to the original, it’s not the worst either.

On it’s 15th anniversary, the campy sequel is still a guilty pleasure.

Catherine Tramell is one of the most fascinating women in film. Despite the infamy of her sexuality, she’s also an interesting character with depth and mystery. A brilliant writer turning pages from her books into real life scenarios. Sharon Stone’s enigmatic performance brought Catherine to life and cemented her iconic role in cinema.

Basic Instinct 2 finds Catherine now in London. Fourteen years have passed, but she’s up to her old tricks. Except this time, a psychiatrist will be her book muse.

The 2006 sequel isn’t it’s predecessor. But it feels like it knows that, and is in on the joke. Sharon Stone played Catherine with natural ease in 1992. Here, she feels more like a caricature of herself. So over the top in performance it’s almost purposeful.

Credit: IMDB

We’re first reintroduced to Tramell in the film’s opening scene. She’s behind the wheel of a speeding luxury car. Specifically a Spyker C8 Laviolette. Forcibly masturbating with her drugged up companion’s hand. The car slams into the water, but she’s able to save herself. Kevin Franks, (a famous footballer) sinks to his death. Later all charges are dropped.

Catherine’s had tragic relationships with star athletes before. During the 90’s investigation her relationship with boxer Manny Vasquez is discussed several times. But since he died in the ring, her culpability seems impossible. Actually, much of her guilt remains questionable in the first film.

In Risk Addiction, there is less ambiguity. Her predilection towards manipulation and murder is front and center. They literally tell us in the title. Which stems from the diagnosis she’s later given. Explaining her problem as an addiction to risky behavior. Essentially, a god complex.

This comes from Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey) who’s sent to evaluate the writer after her arrest for the car crash. He immediately deems himself smarter than her. A bad sign for any overly confident male in Catherine’s presence.

He’s easily ensnared into her dangerous world. Rendering him instantly less powerful. The two strike up a sexy, and bizarre relationship.

I will openly defend Basic Instinct 2.

Because even though it’s preposterous, outlandish, and over the top, it also has heart. Catherine doesn’t have the same charm as before. Yet still manages to be captivating at times. Joe Eszterhas’s 1992 screenplay was in your face. But it was also weaved sexuality consistently into the story. And made it work. Some scenes even attempting artistry. Like the use of kaleidoscopes in the opening. The sequel by comparison cares less about that. It’s more ostentatious in its sexual overtones. But it tries.

The entire one hour and fifty four minutes is a mind game. At times, challenging the viewer with boggling details.

Good enough to make you once again wonder if Catherine could be innocent. There are other throwbacks to the first movie too. At one point while at Dr. Glass’s office, Catherine seductively pulls up her skirt to straddle a chair from behind. A clear nod to the infamous legs crossing moment. (Though admittedly, not as good.)

Certain aspects of the mystery writer remain. She’s still slickly aware. Making clever quips and detailed observations. With Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), she used smoking. With Glass, it’s his dissolved marriage. She confidently calls him out like Columbo. Mentioning that the lack of ring and tanned ring finger immediately tells her what she needs to know.

Catherine’s antics are on display once again. This time, with colder undertones. In the original, Catherine had quiet moments of vulnerability. Her motivations stemmed from a creative desire to drive content for her book. In Michael Caton-Jones’s sequel, Tramell is more malicious. There’s no real reason to mess with Dr. Glass other than fun. Or as she says at one point, because she’s “afraid of boredom”.

Most don’t hold Basic Instinct 2 in high regard. It won the most Razzie awards in 2007 including worst picture. Even Paul Verhoeven (director of the original) said he disliked it. Blaming the lack of a strong male character to play opposite Catherine as reason for the film’s lackluster presence.

The sequel is highly criticized, (in some cases for good reason). But there are some elements to praise. Leora Barish and Henry Bean’s screenplay has a few enjoyable twists (even if they’re non sensical). And watching Catherine’s hypnotic allure over others still rocks.

Fifteen years later Basic Instinct 2’s campiness remains a hilariously over the top guilty pleasure. The rise of the erotic thriller is long gone. And the 2006 movie’s power to revive it wasn’t too successful.

In an era of excess, and availability, sexy thrillers are apparently less interesting, or needed. They may not be necessary. But with what we’ve been through, it’s only natural to want some escapist fun. And this genre always provides that.

Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction is currently streaming on Showtime, and free on Pluto TV

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