Review: American Psycho 2 (2002)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #801

Also known as All American Girl
Number of Views: One
Release Date: June 18, 2002
Sub-Genre: Teen Slasher
Country of Origin: United States
Budget: $10,000,000
Running Time: 85 minutes
Director: Morgan J. Freeman
Producer: Ernie Barbarash
Screenplay: Alex Sanger, Karen Craig
Special Effects: Jeff Skochko
Cinematography: Vanja Cernjul
Score: Norman Orenstein
Editing: Mark Sanders
Studio: Lions Gate Films
Distributor: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Stars: Mila Kunis, William Shatner, Kim Schraner, Geraint Wyn Davies, Michael Kremko, Robin Dunne, Kim Poirier, Lindy Booth, Charles Officer, Shoshana Sperling, Susan Dalton, Jenna Perry, Lynne Deragon, Philip Williams, Kay Hawtrey

Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫

[1] Emiliana Torrini “Dead Things”

[2] Imogen Heap “Angry Angel”

If you asked me to list my top ten films of the last two decades, Mary Harron’s American Psycho would undoubtedly figure right near the apex. Based on the novel by the same name by Bret Easton Ellis, it might have taken some liberties with the source fiction, but the result was one of the most razor-sharp satires to have emerged in my lifetime. It wasn’t just the fact that it was eminently quotable, almost criminally entertaining, and got better the more times you viewed it. Christian Bale’s performance as the eponymous anti-hero of the title, Patrick Bateman, was flat-out magnificent and, to this very day, remains unparalleled. I’ve watched Harron’s movie more times than I can tally and it really is pure gold. Thus when a sequel surfaced two years later and was thrown promptly to the wolves, I decided to grant it the widest berth imaginable and refuse its very existence like everyone else on the planet.

The omens didn’t bode at all well from the offset as American Psycho 2 was adapted from a script titled The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die and had absolutely no association with the original film, before being altered to incorporate Bateman as a token gesture and to help recoup the $10 million outlay lavished upon it. Ellis quickly denounced it, while even its star, Mila Kunis, was quick to distance herself from the project. Known as All American Girl before stealing an identity it had absolutely no right to assume, it was torn asunder by critics, ridiculed by the masses, and fell from plain sight before you could say “Patrick? Is that you? No Luis. It’s not me. You’re mistaken”. It has taken me fifteen years to pluck up the courage to give Morgan J. Freeman’s hot mess the time of day and the only hope it had was to stand as a decent movie in its own right. No more than five minutes in, the red flags were at full mast.

Now I’m not ordinarily one to make comparisons when it’s quite clear that such scrutiny will effectively nullify any credibility before we’ve even got to the meat and potatoes. However, in the case of American Psycho 2, there’s an elephant in the room that’s just too gargantuan to overlook, with a trunk filled with peanuts no less. You see, Patrick Bateman is explained as one of the most heinous criminal minds in American history and anyone familiar with the legend should be more than aware how ludicrous a suggestion this is. Without saying too much, he was no Jeffrey Dahmer, at least, not in a literal sense. So the suggestion that this brutal serial killer was “one of the greats” is ludicrous in the extreme. Straight out of the trap and Freeman makes a fundamental error, although to be fair, it doesn’t take a degree in criminology to see how the studio plugged this in simply for effect.

Moving swiftly on, we are introduced to the twelve-year old girl responsible for ending Bateman’s reign of terror, Rachael Newman (Kunis), several years later and she has since dedicated her life to criminal law, particularly the pursuit of suchlike psychopaths. Her professor, Robert Starkman (William Shatner), is a former FBI agent with a flawless record for catching his man and she is gunning for the teaching assistant’s position currently up for grabs. Landing this apple from teacher will make her a shoo-in for a highly creditable FBI training program, and needless to say, Rachael faces stiff competition from a number of her classmates if she wishes to land this highly sought after role. One such rival is her close friend Cassandra (Lindy Booth) who is one slutty step ahead in this race simply because she’s engaging in extracurricular activities with Starkman on the down low. Evidently Rachael has her work cut out for her.

In between trying to work out how to level the playing field so to speak, our all american girl also pays a visit to school psychiatrist Eric Daniels (Geraint Wyn Davies) and one brief meeting is all it takes for him to label her a textbook sociopath and break the patient confidentiality rule by warning Starkman that one of his students is potentially “a wrong ‘un”. Meanwhile, Rachael is hard at work obliterating all-comers and curiously nobody thinks to question all the empty seats in Starkman’s lectures. I shit you not, if you had grand designs on becoming a serial killer, then you may be about to come unstuck in a major way by taking her actions as gospel. Not to mention the fact that this dainty little shrew is able to overcome her opponents with embarrassing ease with a strength that we can only assume is superhuman.

Kunis is a fine actress, and to her credit, she tries her level best to convince with only Alex Sanger & Karen Craig’s cliché-ridden script to act as guidance. Shatner is Shatner and that’s neither a compliment or insult, merely an observation. As for the rest of the cast, well they have so little to do other than punch through the motions and hope they don’t fall into any one of the film’s numerous gaping plot holes. To be fair, the fact that Freeman is passing this off as American Psycho does him few favors as he alienates his audience early doors and it’s increasingly tough to judge it on its own merits. That said, had it been known as All American Girl, it still would have had to contend with being excruciatingly average and lacking completely in both originality or reasons to remain tuned in.

It pains me to report that there is no smoke without fire where American Psycho 2 is concerned and it is every bit the empty vessel it was billed as upon its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it release. Let’s not bend the business card, it’s perfectly watchable if you disconnect the neurons prior to insertion and take it for what it is – a powder puff teen slasher without an ounce of integrity or bone in its body that hasn’t been begged, borrowed or outright stolen from superior examples of the sub-genre. I was willing to judge Freeman’s film on its own merits but that’s easier said than done when there are such a dearth of reasons to be cheerful. Indeed the only upside I can muster is that Kunis looks decidedly hot with those big butter wouldn’t melt eyes of hers, and if that’s recommendation enough for you, then knock yourselves out. Just don’t expect to feel good about yourself once the end credits bail you out.

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 4/10

Grue Factor: 2/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers: It is astonishing that a young girl of Rachael’s frame can wreak so much havoc without the vaguest hint of resistance but that is precisely what she does. Whether strangling her victims with ribbed condoms, hanging them from the light fittings, ramming ice picks into their skulls in public libraries, forcing mops through their mouths and out though the back of their heads, or simply blowing them a kiss resulting in death by two storey fall, she’s a chip off the old block that one and Patrick would be proud if only he wasn’t reveling in his new-found status as the most cunning criminal mind in modern American history.

Read American Psycho Appraisal
Read The Rules of Attraction Appraisal
Read Urban Legend Appraisal
Read Scream Appraisal

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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