Who thought this would be a good idea? And why did I decide to spend an evening with it? I don’t think that I can answer those questions. I should have known, based on the avalanche of bad reviews, but then who listens to critics?
I walked in knowing this would be bad yet, like a moth to a flame, I found myself at the counter uttering the words “Basic Instinct 2,” as I handed over my hard-earned money. The theater’s lobby was packed with people out for a night at the movies. Perhaps I would at least have a jazzed crowd to watch it with, but no. I entered the auditorium to find but a handful of people peppered throughout. I guess all of those bad reviews worked in keeping people away. In any case, I settled down in my seat and waited for the festivities to begin.
The film opens with the most excitement you’re going to get. Sharon Stone, reprising her role as Catherine Tramell, speeding through the empty night streets of London with a drugged-up man for a passenger. She leads him into an activity that probably isn’t terribly well advised while driving 100+ mph. With the empty streets, I was wondering if this could be a part of the world of V for Vendetta, but this film isn’t that smart. Anyway, Tramell winds up crashing the car off a bridge into a river. The man dies, and the story, such as it is, is off to the races.
Tramell is arrested and assigned one Michael Glass, played in stoic fashion by David Morrissey as the shrink, to determine how much of a threat she is. The game picks up when she starts with the mind games, attempting to out-shrink the doctor. The doctor, meanwhile, is buying right into it. Then more people start dying and everyone is a suspect. Blah, blah, blah.
I honestly found myself not caring about anything. There was no tension, mystery, or sensuality. The acting was awful on all fronts, the dialog was laughable (and judging by some of the reactions in my small crowd, it was hilarious), and the score was annoying. There was nothing to like about this movie.
Our two leads, Stone and Morrissey, have one look and one tone of voice apiece. Everything is taken so deadly seriously that the comedy is unintentionally increased. The best way to describe it is “constant constipation.” Stone, with her plasticine face, probably didn’t have enough control of her facial muscles to muster more than that pained look of an aging seductress. Then there is Morrissey who isn’t much better – he is completely forgettable. I felt bad for David Thewlis and Charlotte Rampling. They have both been in good projects in the past, and are pretty much wasted here. They are abandoned by the poor script and inept direction.
What can I say; this was just a dull movie. The story moved on a straight line to a conclusion that was not satisfying. The highly touted eroticism and Stone’s full monty was nothing terribly exciting except perhaps for that guy down the road that kept whispering Stone’s name to himself and shifting in his chair, not to mention the ripping of Velcro. Sorry, I had to fight back a wave of nausea there.
I did find it interesting to discover how troubled this production was. It seems that talks first formed a good six or seven years ago when this prospect may have been a bit more feasible. Then there were the names attached. Among directors that had expressed interest were Paul Verhoeven, who was behind the original, David Cronenberg, who probably could have made a great film, Jan de Bont, and John McTiernan, who dropped out when he couldn’t use his own production team. The list of male leads is like a who’s who of Hollywood. Benjamin Bratt (rejected by Stone who said he was a bad actor), Robert Downey, Jr., Kurt Russell, Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Greenwood, Viggo Mortensen, Benicio del Toro, Aaron Eckhart, and Harrison Ford were all considered for the role of Glass. There was even a time when they considered recasting Stone – with Demi Moore or Ashley Judd taking on the role. With all of these problems and changes, I am surprised it got made at all.
Bottomline. Do what most of those at the multiplex this fine night did: go see a different movie. This movie is flat out awful, a misbegotten project that never should have left the board room. It does nothing for Stone’s Hollywood stroke.
I will leave you with one of my favorite, ahem, lines from the film, uh, movie:
“Don’t feel so bad; even Oedipus didn’t see his mother coming.”