At her moment of orgasm, she loses control of the wheel and goes crashing into the Thames, Chappaquiddick-style. Luckily, she makes it safely to the surface, but soon she finds herself wrongly accused of murdering her hapless companion.
When Scotland Yard assigns a psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey), to evaluate her sanity, he concludes she has a "risk addiction," and -- like a moth to a flame, and just like Michael Douglas in Part 1 -- he gradually becomes attracted to, then obsessed with her.
As the body count begins to rise and the movie switches gears to become a serial-murder mystery, Stone is consistently fascinating to watch. At age 48, she looks terrific, she fairly oozes star power and she can still strike a provocative pose.
She also gives a convincing performance of a woman who has become totally bored with sex -- a comical spider-woman who struts around the expensive sets delivering Mae West one-liners and blowing smoke out of the side of her mouth like Bette Davis.
In a better movie, this grand-dame performance might have been fun, but it's surrounded here by an impossibly dull and unsatisfying whodunit plot, unintentionally funny dialogue and such absurdities as having Catherine stay up late one night and whip out an entire novel.
It doesn't help that co-star Morrissey -- who serves as the audience point of view and has most of the screen time -- is a charisma-challenged non-entity. Clearly, the producers could not induce a male star of any stature to take on the thankless role.
Director Michael Caton-Jones fills his frame with teasing flashes of naked bodies, simulated copulation and full-scale orgies; all his characters talk dirty and the movie's advertising would have us believe that it's the last word in steamy cinematic sex.
But Caton-Jones doesn't have original director Paul Verhoeven's gift for glossy smut, and the world has passed by filmmakers in this department during the past 14 years. Compared to what is one click away from any kid on the Internet, the depravity of "Basic Instinct 2" is very tame indeed.