Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 28
  2. Negative: 9 out of 28
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  1. Reviewed by: Staff [Not Credited]
    Grade-A pulp fiction. This erotically charged thriller about the search for an ice-pick murderer in San Francisco rivets attention through its sleek style, attractive cast doing and thinking kinky things, and story, which is as weirdly implausible as it is intensely visceral.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Pollack
    Oct 15, 2014
    A splendid murder mystery, but one with as much gore and steamy sex as I've seen in a long time. [20 Mar 1992, p.3F]
  3. Reviewed by: Jay Boyar
    Oct 15, 2014
    Bad politics sometimes makes for good movies, and the harsh, politically incorrect truth about Basic Instinct is that it's a tantalizing, suspensefully correct thriller.
  4. 75
    The film is for horny pups of all ages who relish the memory of reading stroke books under the covers with a flashlight. Verhoeven has spent $49 million to reproduce that dirty little thrill on the big screen.
  5. Basic Instinct transfers Mr. Verhoeven's flair for action-oriented material to the realm of Hitchcockian intrigue, and the results are viscerally effective even when they don't make sense. Drawing powerfully on the seductiveness of his actors and the intensity of their situation, Mr. Verhoeven easily suspends all disbelief.
  6. Beneath its heavy-breathing fripperies, though, Basic Instinct is mechanical and routine, a muddle of Hitchcockian red herrings and standard cop-thriller ballistics.
  7. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Oct 15, 2014
    Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct is a slick, trashy, blatantly manipulative thriller that you won't stop watching once you start. [20 Mar 1992, p.25]
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The film never makes total sense, but at its best (the first half-hour), it comes closer to solidly junky titillation than the hapless Final Analysis. [20 Mar 1992, Life, p.1D]
  9. Reviewed by: Hal Lipper
    Oct 15, 2014
    Basic Instinct has the action and gore of Verhoeven's Total Recall and the cool sheen of his equally bloody RoboCop. Verhoeven can deliver style in spades, but Eszterhas' jumble of confusing plot twists and conventional movie cliches proves fatal. [20 Mar 1992, p.29]
  10. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Oct 15, 2014
    Joe Eszterhas' screenplay doesn't make sense, and he doesn't bother to hide this fact. In the end, Basic Instinct teases and screws us with the same efficiency that the film's femme fatale handles the protagonist.
  11. Reviewed by: Stephen Hunter
    Oct 15, 2014
    Overpublicized and underbrained,Basic Instinct is a bitter disappointment, worth maybe a 10th of the hype that the media have so obligingly ladled out for its benefit.
  12. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Oct 15, 2014
    Basic Instinct's characters lack psychology and therefore motive. Admittedly they possess pathology, but that's not enough to maintain suspense in a movie with plot holes big enough to drive a tank through.
  13. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    This reflects its fundamental flaw of arrogance, a smug faith in the ability of its own speed, smartness and luxe to wow the yokels.
  14. 50
    The film is like a crossword puzzle. It keeps your interest until you solve it. Then it's just a worthless scrap with the spaces filled in.
  15. Reviewed by: Staff [Not Credited]
    The worst things about Basic Instinct, though, are the explicit "love" scenes. They're supposed to contribute to a heady equation in which sex, violence and psychology are fused; instead, they're gratuitous, exploitative, and entirely unerotic.
  16. Uninvolving. Even the sex is boring. Are these scenes supposed to be wildly erotic? If they are, they don't work. [20 Mar 1992, Daily Notebook, p.D1]
  17. Despite (or maybe because of) his obligatory nods to Hitchcock, this is slick and entertaining enough to work quite effectively as thriller porn, even with two contradictory denouements to its mystery (take your pick--or rather, your ice pick).
  18. Reviewed by: Kathleen Maher
    Verhoeven's film is fascinating, if stupid and stylish, if shallow. The story has to move along at a fair clip because otherwise we'd notice how nonsensical it all is. And there is very little to connect with emotionally.
  19. A reminder of the difference between exhilaration and exhaustion, between tension and hysteria, between eroticism and exhibitionism. The line may be fine, but it is real enough to separate the great thrillers from the also-rans. And Basic Instinct is not a great thriller.
  20. Reviewed by: Barry Johnson
    Oct 15, 2014
    One suspects that [Verhoeven's] produced exactly the movie he wanted to produce: fast, cynical and profitable. Cha-ching. [20 Mar 1992, p.AE17]
  21. Verhoeven's lurid thriller has moments of welcome self-parody, but most of the action manages to be sensationalistic, homophobic, and tedious at the same time. [20 Mar 1992, Arts, p.12]
  22. What isn't so fascinating is this movie's absurdity of motivation. No one does anything that makes sense. No one seems real. When the actual perpetrator is uncovered, there is no enlightenment as to why the killing occurred.
  23. Reviewed by: Bill Cosford
    Oct 15, 2014
    I'd have thought you'd get more for $3 million. The dialogue here is among the worst in modern big-budget memory; even the cliches are lame. [20 Mar 1992, p.G5]
  24. 25
    Verhoeven does not explore the dark side, but merely exploits it, and that makes all the difference in the world.
  25. 20
    What we have here is a movie with not just one, but a family pack of psychos.
  26. It's just one more dunk in the slime pit of exploitation. [13 Apr 1992, p.26]
  27. Reviewed by: Terrence Rafferty
    A vicious, grindingly manipulative urban mystery that uses a thick atmosphere of S & M kinkiness to distract the audience from the story's thinness and inanity.
  28. A perverse, lame-brained thriller that is pornographic, misogynist and homophobic. If that makes it sound appealing, I should also add that it's silly, boring and intellectually insulting.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 117 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 19
  2. Negative: 6 out of 19
  1. Apr 2, 2014
    not to good for the kids the guy at blockbuster down on 3rd said that it was a good movie and i watched it with my grandson.not to good for the kids the guy at blockbuster down on 3rd said that it was a good movie and i watched it with my grandson.
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 20, 2011
    I felt like I was watching a porno, with the same production value and cheap plot. The sex scenes were entirely over the top, and the movieI felt like I was watching a porno, with the same production value and cheap plot. The sex scenes were entirely over the top, and the movie was extremely predictable. Pretty much a waste of 2 hours. Full Review »
  3. Jan 28, 2013
    Here we have a typical erotic-thriller which works (Besides the plot holes, and the unbelievable actions some characters make), because SharonHere we have a typical erotic-thriller which works (Besides the plot holes, and the unbelievable actions some characters make), because Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas were looking good, and had some screen-chemistry. The script (while nothing special) creates enough tension to keep you watch the whole movie, but the ending is confusing and disappointing. Full Review »