- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006

A sequel to “Basic Instinct” isn’t the worst idea kicking around Hollywood — that honor goes to the rumor that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon will star in a “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid” remake.

Still, revisiting “Instinct’s” ice-pick wielding novelist 14 years later makes little sense, save as a desperate attempt by Sharon Stone to reclaim her sex goddess status.

The actress may be aging gloriously, but the schlocky “Basic Instinct 2” stereotypes her anew at an age when she should be planning for roles that don’t require skimpy skirts.

“Basic Instinct 2” pretends not only that Miss Stone isn’t pushing 50, but that naughty cinema can still catch us off guard. But between the women of Wisteria Lane and a decade’s worth of a coarsening culture, a saucy author’s smutty talk hardly shocks anymore.

The sequel starts with Miss Stone’s Catherine Tramell driving recklessly along a London highway, a boy toy who appears drugged strapped in her passenger seat. Catherine can’t keep her eye on the road, for reasons too graphic to be described here, and her car takes a plunge into the River Thames. Catherine swims to safety. Her date isn’t so fortunate.

The London police are stunned at her callous reaction to the tragedy and charge her with murder. Before she can be fully, ahem, interrogated, she’s assigned a psychiatrist (David Morrissey) to determine if she poses a danger to herself or others.

Mr. Morrissey’s Dr. Glass diagnoses her as a risk addict — but a technicality sets her free.

Catherine isn’t done with the good doctor yet.

She hires him to be her therapist, setting her seduction trap in motion.

Turns out he’s an easier mark than she expected. He’s still tortured by a former patient who killed his girlfriend while under his care, and his ex-wife is carrying on with a famous journalist.

It isn’t long before Dr. Glass is making love to his girlfriend while glancing at Catherine’s book jacket photograph on his night stand.

Dr. Glass has more than Catherine’s mile-long legs on his mind. People in his inner circle are dying at an alarming rate. Is Catherine — whose life, as we learned in the 1992 film, often imitates art — the killer? Or might it be Detective Washburn (David Thewlis, the best thing in this sordid film), who has his own skeletons?

You’ll know the answer by film’s end — it just doesn’t make much sense.

Nor does casting Mr. Morrissey, who proves as sexy as Mister Rogers, as the Michael Douglas stand-in.

No one’s paying to see Mr. Morrissey, though. Curiosity seekers want to know if Miss Stone is nude (yes), if she still looks sexy (yes) and if she retains the animal magnetism that first drove men gaga (a qualified yes).

The actress’s Catherine doesn’t enter a scene, she strikes a pose and waits for the camera to catch up to her. It’s almost a parody of her original performance, a soulless re-creation that’s never convincingly human.

That, combined with a murky series of twists you couldn’t follow with a flow chart, makes us miss the original’s creative team of Paul Verhoeven and Joe Eszterhas all the more.

“Basic Instinct 2” isn’t the first unnecessary sequel to come our way, it’s just the latest example of an actor clinging to an iconic role as a life preserver.

Let’s hope Harrison Ford sees this “Instinct” before donning his Indiana Jones hat for a fourth time.

*1/2

TITLE: “Basic Instinct 2”

RATING: R (Nudity, sexual situations, adult language and violence)

CREDITS: Directed by Michael Caton-Jones. Written by Leora Barish and Henry Bean based on characters created by Joe Eszterhas.

RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

WEB SITE: www.sonypictures.

com/movies/basicinstinct2/index.html

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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