In 1992, BASIC INSTINCT stirred up both controversy and big box office results with its blend of cop thriller, graphic sex and bloody violence.
Michael Douglas is in great form as San Francisco police detective Nick Curran, called in to investigate the brutal ice pick murder of a former rock star/current philanthropist.
When the trail leads to the rocker's girlfriend Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) the mystery begins.
Catherine is possessed of wealth beyond measure, success as a murder mystery novelist and an apparently voracious appetite for Nick.
Douglas and Stone play well against each other, teasing every bit of tension and mystery out of the in-your-face screenplay by Joe Ezterhas (Flashdance, Showgirls).
Jeannie Tripplehorn is good as Nick's therapist, who also happens to be his ex-lover, George Dzundza (The Deer Hunter, Crimson Tide) has fun as Nick's detective partner and Wayne Knight (Newman!) adds some humor as a policeman, especially during the now famous commando interrogation scene, set in the slickest post-modern room you've ever imagined at a police station.
Jan deBont photographed the film and it looks fantastic, making the most of it's bay locations and the world of the entitled that Catherine plays within. deBont would soon move into the Director's chair with "Twister" and "Speed" and delivers here while working for director Paul Verhoeven, who made some of the best films of the 90's in "Robocop" and "Starship Troopers" while also slithering in with some of the worst, like "Showgirls", which I've never managed to survive more than 20 minutes of without bailing.
The mystery serves him well in BASIC INSTINCT, with Catherine's books detailing the murders well before they happen, which either provides her the perfect alibi and points to a copycat killer, or sets her up as one of the most deviant and calculated killers in memory. It's for you to discover.
The sex is far more graphic than what you'd see in films today, pushing the envelope in its frankness, but there's a lot more going on here than the sex scenes. It's a murder mystery more suited to film noir than its more lurid moments may suggest.
Douglas has rarely been better and as the bodies pile up, we share his confusion on who the killer really is. Jerry Goldsmith tops it all off with one of his best music scores, almost always lingering beneath the blood, sweat and rich settings.
BASIC INSTINCT still holds up as a clever and entertaining murder mystery for those of us not easily offended. Just don't ask Catherine to make you a drink with ice and you'll be fine.
BASIC gets a B.
Followed 14 years later (!) by "Basic Instinct 2".