Dir: Michael Caton-Jones.US/UK. 2006. 113 mins.

The crime of BasicInstinct 2 is not that it fails to achieve instant camp classic status, butthat it is never more than tragically mundane. 14 years ago Paul Verhoevenreinvented the sex thriller with the gloriously trashy original, teamingMichael Douglas with explosive new star Sharon Stone as sexually ambiguous,sociopathic novelist and killer Catherine Tramell. Audiences thrilled at thedid-she-or-didn't-she conundrum, which was only answered in the final moment ofthe film.

The problem with a sequel wasalways how to make a story compelling for audiences who know that Tramell didit. The problem with a sequel 14 years after the original is that she is nowless vulnerable sex goddess than mature hardened 50-year-old manipulator. Throwin a banal battle of wits between Tramell and a handsome young psychiatrist,drench it in hokey psychology about basic instincts and drain it of any ofVerhoeven's delicious irony and the result is this dreary affair.

Awareness of and anticipationfor Basic Instinct 2, sporadically dubbed Risk Addiction, are high aroundthe world and initial grosses when it opens this weekend in multipleterritories will be high. The original is now nothing short of a pulp classicand repeated TV showings and DVD editions have given the sequel a massivepotential audience. With Sharon Stone supporting the release with a globalpublicity blitz, many millions will head to the multiplex in the first week ortwo.

Once disappointedword-of-mouth gets out, however, the film will swiftly slide off theatrescreens and head for the DVD shelves. International numbers will be greaterthan domestic, as on the original, but they won't come near the $235m generatedin 1992; likewise Sony/MGM's domestic numbers won't rival the $117m of BasicInstinct.

The action in the sequel hasmoved to London. We meet Tramell as she races through the night-time streets ofthe city in a sports car, driving a drug-addled sports star (played by UKfootball star Stan Collymore) and pleasuring herself using his lifelessfingers. Just as she reaches orgasm, the car careers off a bridge and plungesto the bottom of the Thames. Tramell escapes, the sports star drowns.

The police, led by DetectiveSuperintendant Roy Washburn (Thewlis), are stunned at Tramell's nonchalantattitude to the death and accuse her of murder once they discover the level ofdrug content in the dead man's bloodstream. Celebrated psychiatrist Dr MichaelGlass (Morrissey) is brought in to evaluate Tramell and testifies that she isaddicted to risk and only her own death will stop her addiction.

Tramell gets off on atechnicality and immediately comes to see Glass for regular psychiatricconsultation. At first reluctant to take her on as a client, he becomes bewitchedby her deceit as well as by her overt sexuality.

But when a journalist (Dancy)who has been sleeping with both Glass's ex-wife (Indira Varma) and Tramell isfound murdered, Glass begins to realize that Tramell's game is more dangerousthan he ever imagined.

As directed by MichaelCaton-Jones, who has handled intrigue so adeptly before in films like Scandal and The Jackal, BasicInstinct 2 falls flat within minutes. The plot is so riddled withimplausibilities, random occurrences and unrealistic behaviour that finally itmakes no sense at all.

Part of the responsibilitymust lie with Stone who vamps it up so absurdly in a reprise of her star-makingrole that you long for Michael Douglas to come along and chew some of thescenery away from her. As surrounded by a host of intense English actors likeeffective leading man David Morrissey, David Thewlis and Charlotte Rampling,Stone is incongruous to say the least. Wearing some of the most ludicrouscostumes created for a contemporary character in, well, movie history, theactress verges on the cartoonish to the point that any sexual chemistry withMorrissey or any other human is impossible.

Come to think of it, there'snot much sex at all in Basic Instinct 2. Stone's much-ballyhooednudity is fleeting, while the two or three sex scenes are surgically vigorous.Kids sneaking into the film will be sorely disappointed at the lack ofgenuinely erotic content.

On the other hand,Caton-Jones makes extensive use of the 'Gherkin' building in east London, whichis where Glass' office is based. The building appears on screen frequentlysurging over the skyline like a massive phallus. Now that's basic.

Production companies
C2 Pictures
in association with IMF 3
MGM Pictures

US distributor
Sony Pictures/MGM

Int'l distributor
Various/C2 Pictures

Exec producers
Denise O'Dell
Mark Abela

Mario F Kassar
Andrew G Vajna
Joel B Michaels

Leora Barish
Henry Bean
based on characters created by Joe Eszterhas

Gyula Pados

Production design
Norman Garwood

John Scott
Istvan Kiraly

John Murphy

Main cast
Sharon Stone
David Morrissey
Charlotte Rampling
David Thewlis
Hugh Dancy
Heathcote Williams
Terence Harvey
Stan Collymore