Fifty Shades Freed, 2018.
Directed by James Foley.
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie, Bruce Altman, Arielle Kebbel, Robinne Lee, Brant Daughterty, and Marcia Gay Harden.
Anastasia and Christian get married, but Jack Hyde continues to threaten their relationship.
Believe it or not, I actually did go into Fifty Shades Freed – the self-advertised climactic finale to all of this kinky fuckery – with an open mind. I’ve never once been opposed to the initial plot or watching a relationship involving BDSM practices unfold as I do not judge anyone’s lifestyle or definition of romance. As a matter of fact, after having researched the partner roles and dynamics in between films to better understand what the hell I’m actually watching, I came away with knowledge and awareness of how sexual bondage and bedroom games can serve as a strong way to test trust or generally spice up happy time. However, this series has never once done that; it has always been and continues to be about a clingy, mentally troubled, stalkerish, psychologically and physically abusive nutcase garnering the affection of women around him solely due to his looks and money. If Christian Grey was ugly and worked at McDonald’s he’d be either arrested or on an FBI watchlist.
That is to say even in marriage the newlyweds have their problems together, mostly thanks to Christian continuing to push bodyguards (one weirdly looks similar to him in physical appearance making for a few double-takes) on her as protection at her fiction editing office, his jealousy rising (he throws a baby temper tantrum when Anastasia chooses to reveal some topless skin near a beach on their honeymoon), keeping her left in the dark on a few secrets, and all-around general frustrations with her disobedience. I maintain my assessment from the first two films that these two are not fit at all for dating, let alone marriage, and that any happy franchise ending would be the result of a bullshit fantasy penned by novelist E.L. James.
Theoretically, if any of this was engaging with well-written scenarios and developed characters (how do you take a protagonist that has a fetish for fucking women that look like his mother as a result of traumatic upbringing and not do a single thing of interest or elaboration on something that offputtingly sexual?), or if the 267 awkward softcore sex scenes between Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan managed to succeed in feeling erotic than it wouldn’t matter how it ends; the journey is always better than the destination. Instead, Fifty Shades Freed is lifeless, bouncing around from plot point to plot point. It feels as if writer Niall Leonard and director James Foley translated about two pages per chapter to each screen as it jumps from sex scenes to vacations to home intruders to tailing escapes in a glorified Audi commercial (those calling Star Wars‘ Rey a Mary Sue need to witness Anastasia magically learn how to pull off slick vehicular moves out of nowhere so they really understand the term) to hostage situations without a care in the world if the transitions were fluid.
What distinguishes Fifty Shades Freed from the others in the series, and I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, is that the trilogy capper is far less unintentionally humorous than the first two. Outside of a ridiculous shot of a character slightly in disguise at a courtroom hearing and a legitimately funny reference alluding to restraining an intruder with the couple’s bondage equipment, there isn’t much to laugh at. Now, this most definitely is not a comedy, but at the very least, coming into these insufferable experiences I knew I could at least count on some silliness (the helicopter crash the second film), whereas here it’s mostly a boring plot filled with gaps in logic. Making matters worse is the fact that once again the stars have absolutely no chemistry together, and frequently sound like malfunctioning drugged robots. Even at the wedding, there is no spark. Don’t even get me started on Jamie Dornan’s embarrassingly bad intoxicated impression.
Again, don’t expect the constant barrage of physical lovemaking to provide some entertainment, as it’s sanitized bubblegum Hollywood intimacy set to the tune of some more terrible mainstream music. Those looking for BDSM action certain aren’t going to find it, but they will get to see the pair lick ice cream off each other’s bodies while trying to discreetly fuck in the kitchen of the vacation home while the rest of the supporting cast (Christian’s family and Ana’s friends make a pointless appearance) sleep. It’s also worth mentioning that again, male viewers actually have more than women to ogle as it appears the most Jamie Dornan is willing to get nude are close-up shots of his pubic hair (what IMAX was truly invented for….).
The only positive thing I have to say about Fifty Shades Freed is that it is the shortest entry in the franchise, which is also baffling considering it has by far the most sex and scattered subplots. It actually feels like a filler installment for the first two-thirds of the running time, and then marginally picks up with discussions about becoming parents all while psychopaths on the run come closing in for long-gestating revenge. The reveals fall flat and the ending is the exact opposite of climactic, complete with a montage featuring highlights of the trilogy. Hopefully, it is now time for Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson to pull a Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, which is to put in remarkable performances on the independent circuit now that they have finished making their cash on this trash.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com
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