American novelist Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) and her British football star boyfriend (Stan Collymore) are speeding along London streets late at night with Catherine at the wheel. The boyfriend would appear to be drunk - or is he drugged? - but that doesn't stop Catherine from using him for her sexual pleasure, getting so carried away that she loses control of the car and it crashes through a barrier and into the Thames. She manages to free herself, but the boyfriend's seatbelt buckle is jammed and Catherine has to leave him behind as the car sinks to the riverbed. Yet the question the police are asking the next day is whether this was an elaborately staged murder as the footballer had a paralysing drug in his system. Could Catherine have bumped him off?
Basic Instinct was a notorious hit of the nineties which spawned a host of straight to video "erotic thrillers" (most of which seemed to star Shannon Tweed for some reason) and eventually, after years of production difficulties and a steady stream of candidates to star alongside the returning Stone dropping out, it gave rise to this sequel. After all the trouble they had even getting started, it's a shame to report that the final effort was neither a hit nor as heady and atmospheric as its original, more of a dutiful slog through some thriller clichés and exhibiting a notable lack of eroticism in its only occasional sex scenes, which must have been frustrating to most of the audience.
Scripted not by Joe Eszterhas this time but Leora Barish (writer of Desperately Seeking Susan) and Henry Bean (writer and director of The Believer), the film's attempts to make an adult and aggressive thriller only amount to some graphic conversational descriptions of sex, more graphic than anything shown at any rate, all wrapped up in a general gloom that saps the interest from the story. Here Catherine is less a provocative sexual predator and more like what would happen if Jackie Collins went nuts one day, with a steely eyed confidence that looks more like evidence of a misplaced sense of her abilities, if not outright laughable.
In fact, the opening five minutes look as if this might be a laugh riot, with real life footballer Collymore bumped off with hilarious abandon, but alas it doesn't last. The Michael Douglas character this time around (what has supposed to have happened to him anyway?) is psychiatrist Michael Glass, played with fatal stuffiness by David Morrissey. Glass enters her life to offer his psychological assessment of Catherine when her case goes to court, and he decides that she suffers from a risk addiction - but what's this? Could it be that Glass is attracted to the older woman? It seems so, as when her trial is called off she goes to attend sessions with him with the result that he cannot get her out of his thoughts. And when murdered bodies start to pile up, he wonders if Catherine is taking the research into her next novel a little too far. Or is it one of the other suspects who are behind the crimes? Search me, the film is reluctant to offer an answer, and the bad girl fun of the first film is all too absent here, leaving a meandering and sullen mystery. Music by John Murphy, working from Jerry Goldsmith's original themes.