Paul Verhoeven’s voyeuristic thriller Basic Instinct was camper than Truman Capote in a tent. The long-gestating sequel’s opening sequence suggests more of the same is to follow. Appropriately enough, for a movie in which she’s the top earner, Sharon Stone is firmly in the driving seat as she speeds through London being pleasured by football star Kevin Franks (Stan Collymore). With the air of a couple of attractions fleeing from Madame Tussaud’s, Stone and Collymore’s high-speed frolics end with their sports car flying into the Thames and poor old Stan sinking to the bottom (proving that wood doesn’t always float).
The camp quotient isn’t quite maintained – no green jumpers gyrating in nightclubs here. While dirty Dutchman Verhoeven gave the original a sly sense of its own daftness, Caton-Jones isn’t quite so daring.
Morrissey seems laughably clean-cut and sexless next to Stone, but he and Thewlis are undoubtedly the best things in Basic Instinct 2. They share the only on-screen chemistry and their cat and mouse games – after Morrissey’s criminal psychiatrist gets drawn into murky waters by Stone’s tarty temptress – are at least watchable. Thewlis manages to make you believe in his character (no mean feat in a movie as shallow as this) and steals all of his scenes as Welsh detective Roy Washburn, a copper whose ’tache isn’t the only dodgy thing about him.
If the original Basic Instinct thought it was sexing up film noir, its sequel seems intent on sexing up London. No tired shots of Big Ben and Routemasters, though. Instead, we get thrusting Docklands skyscrapers and the capital’s favourite phallic symbol du jour, the Gherkin. But, although Caton-Jones and cinematographer Gyula Pados (Kontroll) successfully give the Big Smoke a makeover, they fail to inject any life into Stone’s leaden turn. It’s great to see a mainstream movie use an actress in her 40s to play the femme fatale; it’s just a shame that, ironically, Stone’s acting skills have only ever been seen in flashes.