Review: BASIC INSTINCT (1992) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Review: BASIC INSTINCT (1992)

RATING: 4.5/5

This is the movie that started the erotic thriller craze -- both mainstream and direct-to-video market -- over the next few years throughout the mid 1990s. Even more than a decade since its US theatrical release on March 20, 1992, BASIC INSTINCT remained the perfect example of how erotic thriller should look like.

The movie begins with a graphic sex scene between a famous rock star named Johnny Boz (Bill Cable) and an unidentified blonde woman, before she ends up stabbing him repeatedly with an ice pick. Enter troubled detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), who is called upon a duty to investigate the murder of Johnny Boz. Together with his partner, Gus (George Dzundza), their investigation subsequently leads to a prime suspect named Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), who is a successful bisexual mystery writer. Apparently everyone who are close to Catherine, dies. And even though she claims she had sex with Johnny Boz, she denies the fact that she is involved in any form of murder. But Nick thinks she is lying and determines to investigate further, only to be sexually involved with Catherine -- a mistake that soon causes him dearly.

When the movie first came out in 1992, it was a subject of controversy due to its cruel depiction of gays and women. However, the movie turned out to become a surprise hit and grossed over $100 million at the box office. In only third US feature following back-to-back success of 1987's ROBOCOP and 1990's TOTAL RECALL, director Paul Verhoeven delivers his most assured direction yet in BASIC INSTINCT. Here, he is not afraid to push the boundaries of a mainstream erotic thriller with his distinctive trademark of graphic sex and hardcore violence stamped all over the place. While some of the viewers might think the movie is sleazy, one can't deny the cinematic influence Verhoeven has successfully crafted his picture with such memorable flair. The movie's biggest highlight is of course the infamous police interrogation where Catherine crosses her leg and reveals that she's not wearing panties at all. That scene alone became a cultural milestone and was widely imitated and parodied ever since.

The plot, which is written by Joe Eszterhas (who was paid $3 million for the script) is an entertaining and lurid mix of murder mystery, femme fatale, and erotic content that mostly inspired from Verhoeven's own 1979's Dutch-made thriller THE FOURTH MAN.

Another great factor that made this movie so compulsively watchable is the top-notch cast. Michael Douglas delivers one of his most memorable performances as the conflicted cop Nick Curran, while Sharon Stone steals most of the limelight in her career-defining performance as Catherine Tramell. She's truly a sex symbol here, and it's hard to imagine anyone else could have play a wickedly seductive character as great as she does.

If there's any flaw in this movie, the movie's ending feels a bit of of a cheat and may leave the audience scratching their head. Minor quibble aside, BASIC INSTINCT is a must-see for every movie fans. For those who doesn't get enough of this movie, there is an unrated director's cut version available on DVD. It contains 42 seconds of additional footage, which is mostly scandalous shot of extended sex scene previously trimmed from theatrical release to secure R-rating.

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