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Bi2

The misguided sequel Basic Instinct 2 does little more than remind you how good the protested-by-gay-activists original was

Remember how Freddy Krueger was a terrifying killer in Wes Craven's original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), only to become an irritating, one-liner-spewing quip machine just a few sequels later? The sleek and sexy Catherine Tramell gets the same treatment in the boneheaded Basic Instinct 2. Gay activists staged a boycott of the original thriller, objecting to Sharon Stone's bisexual murderess character, but lots of queer audience members wound up embracing the flick. Lesbian and gay movie fans are encouraged to boycott the sequel--not for any political reasons, but because it stinks on ice.

Remember how Stone's Tramell was icily sexy in those white dresses and the blond updos? Instead of cool, she's now smug, and instead of sleek, she's now tarty, like your inappropriate aunt who dresses half her age and boozily hits on her daughter's embarrassed boyfriend. Stone was a star in the making in the first movie, but now she's the whole show, and the strain shows in her performance. She bludgeons every line of dialogue to death and vamps around with all the subtlety of an amorous Sherman tank. As for her oft-displayed body, she's gone the Madonna route and turned herself into a perfectly preserved glamour slag. There's nothing inviting about her hard body; it's more like a monument to plastic surgery and Pilates.

What's the story, you ask? I'm still working on that one myself. Catherine goes to London, and the credits aren't over before we see her shove a soccer player's finger under her skirt while she speeds through town in a zippy sports car. As she brings herself to climax, she drives off the road and into the Thames, leaving the drugged-out jock to drown. Was it murder? That's what Scotland Yard homicide detective Roy Washburn (David Thewlis, slumming) wants to prove with the help of psychiatrist Michael Glass (David Morrissey). Glass determines that Catherine has a "risk addiction," and after she walks on the murder charge she starts having sessions with Glass, despite warnings to Glass by his mentor, Dr. Milena Gardosh (Charlotte Rampling, really slumming).

Of course, it's about that time that all of Glass's enemies start getting bumped off. Is Catherine up to her old tricks? Is Glass trying to pin the crimes on her? Is Washburn trying to frame either of them?

Honestly, do you care? If you're going to this movie expecting Showgirls-level laughs, you'll be disappointed. In further resemblance to Madonna, Stone has made plenty of crappy movies since her breakthrough in the original Instinct, and this is just another one of those: her Swept Away, if you will. Most of the laughs come from the parade of phallic symbols in the movie, particularly the chrome-and-steel skyscraper where Dr. Glass works. It looks like, and is filmed like, a butt plug.

And if you're going for the R-rated nooky, you'll find that fairly disappointing as well. There was a potentially steamy three-way in an Internet trailer that was making the rounds a few months ago, but that scene is nowhere to be found; look for it on the eventual "unrated" DVD release. Besides, most of the sex scenes involve the pudding-ish Morrissey, who radiates neither charisma nor sexuality; he's like the least interesting parts of Liam Neeson mixed with a heavy dollop of Joe Don Baker.

Top it all off with a ludicrous twist ending that tries to make the movie retroactively less predictable, and you've got a major disappointment. Nothing in the ensuing years has made the original Basic Instinct look more like a Hitchcockian masterpiece than this idiotic sequel. Making a movie written by Joe Eszterhas look great? That's a feat even Freddy Krueger couldn't have pulled off.

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