Fifty Shades Freed. 2018.
Directed by James Foley.
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Max Martini, Marcia Gay Harden.
Anastasia and Christian get married, but Jack Hyde continues to threaten their relationship.
It’s over. After four sexually explicit (eh, softcore) years,
Fucking White People: The Thriller Fifty Shades Freed marks my release from the cold shackles of romantic lifestyle pornography (that some will miss, and honestly, more power to you). No longer must I suckle at Jamie Dornan’s sweaty post-pommel-horse teat in hope of finally get drunk off the franchise’s cocksure madness. No longer must Dakota Johnson burn all her tops and bras in favor of on-camera breast waving while utterly mesmerizing in all her ditz-turned-princess glory (seriously, MVP). Love’s most flummoxing journey has finally reached climax, but what a blandifying, inept “sexy thriller” note things end on. The Boy Next Door this is not.
James Foley’s pièce de résistance finds Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) after their “happily ever after” marriage. “Ana” still the free-spirited temptress who defies Christian’s commands, Christian still the cuffs-and-whips dominant who wants to remain in control. It’s not long before Christian is back meddling in Ana’s business affairs and demanding she not be ogled by other men, but things take a turn for the dangerous when Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) returns and begins stalking the two. Match that with post-honeymoon acclimation and an unexpected pregnancy subplot to assure things aren’t just steamy bedroom bliss for Mr. and Mrs. Grey.
In tragic format, this third chapter – from start to finish – is a more subdued take on BDSM and submissive behaviors that sleepwalks through an otherwise tense “haunted past” scenario. Hyde is able to screw with Christian’s family and loved ones with *unspecified* ease, almost like how Christian patches into police orders and “investigates” to his heart’s content. How in the name of chiseled abs is Christian able to – oh, right. Rich white people. That’s the answer to every question in Fifty Shades Freed. Along with “Yes, this is an Audi I’m driving.” Because love nor product placement knows no bounds.
Jack Hyde – who for some reason isn’t played by Josh Lucas – will go down as the year’s most hapless villain. From his heroic botching of a kidnap attempt (after entering Christian’s apartment how) to *hilariously* taking a bullet only after *bailing himself out of jail for $500K without explanation.* His hatred stemming from an incredibly privileged life he himself sabotaged with sexual blackmail. “You owe me a life.” Can you even explain why?
I mean, I’m an online writer. I can generally estimate what Princeton grad publishing editors make and it ain’t worth half a million in pocket change. But, again, what’s the moral of the story here? Rich white people – STOP ASKING QUESTIONS.
Fifty Shades Freed leans heavily into E.L. James’ bored housewife dreamland that’s best enjoyed in pajamas and with a bottle of red wine – demographics aren’t hidden nor is that an issue. This is, unapologetically, a “Girl’s Night” movie best enjoyed with friends. Boyfriends not needed, given how they’ll probably be dumbstruck and mystified by the inescapably hapless storytelling. Starting with how easy each character makes “working” look.
Ana, after being punished and pleasured on a boat post-wedding bells, returns to work and finds *she’s been promoted while away and the company upgraded her office furnishings.* Her first order of business? “Make the font two sizes smaller.” THEN SHE CLOCKS OUT FOR WHAT WE CAN ONLY ASSUME IS A MONTH’S LONG MOUNTAIN GETAWAY AND WASTES GOOD BEN AND JERRY’S BY SLATHERING IT ON HER GRECIAN GOD OF A HUSBAND. She’s an expert getaway driver out of nowhere, pleasured often and can sneak away from guards with Scooby Doo level schemes. Plus harbors a vendetta against tops – like, anything that might cover her nipples. And you know what? Johnson *still* owns it. By the power of doe-eyes and self-awareness.
Alas, the pet rock that is Jamie Dornan leaves this franchise as he entered – an oily hunk of man meat unable to convey even the slightest emotion. It’s not even Dornan himself, it’s his character. That I understand. Still doesn’t excuse an absolute blank-stare disinterest around his horrid American accent, monotone reactions, manipulative life controlling – the only intriguing question worth asking Christian Grey is why he wears torn Abercrombie jeans inside his padded room of pleasure.
Like, what makes those his fuckin’ pants? Aren’t they harder to take off – sorry, NOT THE POINT. Fifty Shades Freed even lets Christian become a lounge piano singer (“Maybe I’m Amazed,” omg), express drunken thoughts and shed a goddamn tear – NONE OF WHICH MAKE HIM SEEM ANY MORE HUMAN. He is a sex robot programmed to make us believe borderline predatory characteristics (not the sex, mind you) can be ignored when million dollar homes and limitless expenditures are in the mix – and he’s still not fooling anyone.
Those expecting another kinky double-down, settle for the same smooth-pop playfulness that’s more a tease this time around. Something you’d find on the cover of a bargain-bin romance novel minus exaggerated details, which we do indeed miss. Quick trips to Christian’s favorite chamber are only to weaponize sex (creepy) and pick from the toy drawer, but nothing tops the fetishistic danger of Fifty Shades Darker and Ana’s metallic ball party. We get it. They visit Bonetown. A lot. There’s just nothing new to say aside from when Ana is with child and they still strap on the leather for a little sensual treat – because being parents doesn’t change who we are. If there’s ever a message to take from these films.
Do I even waste keystrokes on explaining why this movie is a scripted disaster? Numerous plot holes are left unanswered – bail money, how does everyone know everything, are they on Earth because
this talking bag of sand Dornan seems to lack basic human traits – and payoffs are more elusive than shots of Christian’s man bits. Kate’s (Eloise Mumford) “maybe Elliot’s cheating” drama that lasts one over-drinks scene then is forgotten when Elliot proposes. Or the Hyde/Grey orphanage connection dropped as a goddamn afterthought despite possibly changing Christian’s life. Ana’s constant lack of responsibility and Christian’s tendency to sway mid-scene tones by just walking in and demanding sexy time – which makes for a very awkward pregnancy discussion because Ana straight up forgot to take her birth control. “Babies come from sex, we bump uglies a lot, it was bound to happen.” Blissfully ignorant of the multiple ways two lovers can prevent such life creation by taking simple measures that…sigh, what am I even doing this.
Congratulations, those like me. We made it – but not without one final trial by fire. Fifty Shades Freed is bar-none the worst of this fornicating franchise only because of how uninteresting each scene becomes. James Foley is trying to say something about maturity and individuality slamming heads, but intent is lost in a helpless criminal subplot drawn from special depths of thoughtlessness. I’m not sure what shade this one is, but it’s certainly below at least forty-five. E.L. James’ wackadoo circle now complete, us left with the touching thought of Christian Grey teaching his son how to build his own “Red Room” instead of a treehouse.
Then comes the reboot. Rebone? It’s been a long week.
Film: ★/ Movie: ★ ★