Fifty Shades Darker, 2017.
Directed by James Foley
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Bella Heathcote, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Max Martini, Bruce Altman, Marcia Gay Harden, and Kim Basinger.
While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her.
There is absolutely potential to tell a compelling narrative following a person battling squashing inner sadistic sexual desires in an effort to successfully maintain a normal, healthy relationship. Fifty Shades Darker (and the entire franchise for that matter based on novels written by E.L James) is not that movie. The jigsaw puzzle that is Christian Grey’s (Jamie Dornan) traumatic past and abnormal personality are shoved to the side far too often when that theme should be front and center. I’m all for equal opportunity nudity and certainly won’t complain about being granted the privilege of seeing Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele, an introverted and romantically inexperienced but career driven woman that Mr. Grey has emotionally manipulated into his warped concept of love) undress every 20 minutes, but there needs to be an actual plot to hold everything together. Otherwise it’s just a blurry onslaught of pointless softcore sex.
Fifty Shades Darker actually does begin with a glimmer of hope, teasing a look at the abusive childhood past of Christian, except like most character details that are actually interesting in this series, nothing comes from it. Mr. Grey just doesn’t feel like talking about these important life aspects, even with the woman he claims to be changing his aberrant ways for. Last time I checked, communication was one of the most important aspects of a relationship, but whatever. He’s presented as too traumatized to have a serious discussion about crucial details like his birth mother, but really it’s just the lazy script not wanting to address drama in favor of jumping right into the next bit of f******. By the way, there is another atrocious mainstream pop soundtrack over every sex scene, stripping away every sense of eroticism and resulting in unintentional BDSM hilarity.
The terrible script doesn’t help matters, once again filled with vomit-inducing dialogue regarding negotiations over sexual activities (specifically, where Anastasia is allowed to touch Mr. Grey), unequivocally awkward situations that contain no chemistry once again between any actors (there is undoubtedly online porn with women better faking enjoying sex), and an unnecessary requirement for every character to deliver every line as if it’s some cutting-edge emotional speech. “You taught me how to f***, she taught me how to love” is an actual line in the movie, and it’s as embarrassing listening to as it reads on paper.
However, that’s not even the worst of the script’s problems, as Fifty Shades Darker depicts a helicopter crash into a forest, where Mr. Grey shows back up at one of his fancy establishments without a bruise or scratch, indicating that he casually strutted away from the wreck like he’s The Terminator. Also, this all happens about an hour after the local news reported that he was missing without a phone. But it’s okay, Anastasia has her horrifying moment of imagining a life without Mr. Grey! Common sense screenplay writing be damned! Naturally, they have sex and things are back to the status quo in this absurdly ludicrous trainwreck.
Also, there are three new major character additions, all of which are as worthless as the returning supporting cast members. You see, everyone in this s***-show of a franchise is obsessed with creepily stalking their flames. Mr. Grey shows up at art galleries unannounced to buy paintings of Anastasia, while another woman (Bella Heathcote from The Neon Demon) follows him around, including breaking and entering into his property along with actively spying on Anastasia as well, just because she’s overly submissive, mentally unstable, and wants him back. Christian has lost interest in her, and the culmination of this side plot is laughably bad. What a shock.
Circling back around to the supporting cast from the previous film, there were times I had no idea who they even were. Mr. Grey has quite the sizable family, Anastasia also has friends, and the one thing binding them all together is how superfluous they are to the story. It’s like a family reunion where you have no idea who the hell anyone is. They too, are just obstacles in the way of more softcore sex, leaving no impression whatsoever.
What’s unfortunate is that Fifty Shades Darker has absolutely no reason to be somehow worse than the first movie. The plot has reached a point where it’s time to dive headfirst into, what if written with skill, would definitely be a tragically sympathetic protagonist worth rooting for to overcome his disturbing sexual impulses. Instead, Fifty Shades Darker is a string of scenes where the couple admit they should take things slow and to normalize Grey, only to rip each other’s clothes off five minutes later. To make matters worse, it’s a two hour movie that even with Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan constantly getting naked, feels repetitively sluggish in need of just ending by the 90 minute mark.
As one final f*** you, Fifty Shades Darker reveals footage of the trilogy finale Fifty Shades Freed during the midway point of its end credits. Is the final one called Fifty Shades Freed because after that I’ll never have to review one of these piles of garbage again?
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★