Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

  • Time: 101 min
  • Genre: Drama | Romance | Thriller
  • Director: James Foley
  • Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Arielle Kebbel

Storyline:

Believing they have left behind shadowy figures from their past, newlyweds Christian and Ana fully embrace an inextricable connection and shared life of luxury. But just as she steps into her role as Mrs. Grey and he relaxes into an unfamiliar stability, new threats could jeopardize their happy ending before it even begins.

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  • The high-gloss, soft-core film adaptations of E.L. James’ wildly popular Fifty Shades trilogy have always been unbothered by logic, coherence or, most of the time, pleasing anyone outside the novels’ rabid fan base. Yet they have had their merits, most particularly Dakota Johnson who can finally move on from the role that has shackled as much as shaped her career. Unfortunately for her co-star Jamie Dornan, the role of the kink-centric Christian Grey has exposed him as a performer whose limited range works best within the parameters of a specific role, such as the magnetic killer in the British series, The Fall.

    Indeed, the ever-comely Johnson has been the franchise’s salvation and she proves her worth once again in Fifty Shades Freed, the ultimate chapter of the battle-of-the-sexes soap opera. Her Anastasia Steele is now adjusting to life as Mrs. Christian Grey, asserting control over her husband’s characteristic possessiveness by keeping her maiden name at work and tolerating the new security team Christian has hired since her former boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), has been not only stalking her but breaking into Christian’s corporate headquarters and absconding with some computer files.

    Of course, there’s still the matter of Mr. Grey himself, whom she’s still training to behave like a normal human being outside the bedroom. “Talk. Listen. Work stuff out,” she reminds him when he does things without consulting her, harbours secrets in the name of protecting her, and shuts down when she broaches his troubled past or the possibility of starting their own family. “I’m not ready to share you with anyone,” he says, patently horrified at the thought of another human being inhabiting her body. As silly as the series has been and still is, it has always been about the dynamics at play in any committed relationship or, for lack of a better word, control – who seems to have it, who actually has it, and the constant shifting of power from one partner to another.

    Generally, the franchise has always kept such deeper readings of its source material in the periphery and Fifty Shades Freed does nothing to buck that trend. Fifty Shades has never pretended to be anything other than escapist trash and there’s something to be applauded in that dedicated self-awareness. All of its energies are devoted to seeing beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes, surrounded by beautiful things, and having beautifully-presented sex. And yet…one can’t help but wonder what Adrian Lyne, the maestro of thoughtfully titillating works such as Indecent Proposal, Lolita, Unfaithful, and Fifty Shades’ spiritual forebear 91/2 Weeks, might have brought to the proceedings.

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  • GRADE: C-

    THIS FILM IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

    IN BRIEF: The Greys finally tie the knot and it’s still a dim-witted love story in need of a safe word to stop this dreck.

    JIM’S REVIEW: I am now complete.

    Fifty Shades Freed is my official first film for the 2018 movie season and having seen all of this film series, I can attest that the film is certainly free from any sense of full-fledged exotica or just common sense. (Yes, dear moviegoers, I did my sacred duty and took the bullet for you on this one!)

    The film trilogy, the last one, thank goodness, is a conventional mix of soft porn and romantic fantasy, the type of tripe most middle-aged blue-hairs would carelessly blush and giggle to themselves as they experienced the second-hand sexual nastiness on the screen. But I’m afraid it’s just “knot” for me.

    Love has pussy-whipped Our Sex-Obsessed Mr. Grey. He morphs from a male-chauvinistic playboy with sado-masochistic tendencies into a dull, jealous, and controlling dolt with sado-masochistic tendencies. This mundane movie shows less erotic sex this time around (lots of moaning and groaning though), less nudity (excluding Ms. Johnson’s taut nipples that tend to overact slightly more than the actress), and less screen time in its less-than-two hours length (its strongest selling point). But this installment sure has an overabundance of hokum in its silly thin plot: Christian (James Dornan) and Anastasia “Just Call Me Ana” Steele (Dakota Johnson) have continually “tied the knot” in previous chapters, but this time, it is legit. They marry in the most opulent of ceremony that would impress the rich and famous class, let alone us commoners. But happiness soon eludes The Greys, as they adjust to their new arrangements as husband and wife. He: trying to fit in his extensive gym routine while making millions to keep new wife happy; She: juggling and jiggling her role as wife, lover, and a feminist. Oh, and She has one other issue: a psychotic admirer is stalking her once more! Typical soap opera fare.

    Both Ms. Johnson and Mr. Dornan continue to stay fit and are very well-toned. Acting-wise, they still remain flabby. Former Oscar winners Kim Basinger is nowhere in sight this time around and Mary Kay Harden is a mere walk-on. (Be thankful, ladies!) The rest of the cast is unmemorable, although Rita Oro, a singer a.k.a. actress, acts distressed in most of her scenes, even the happy ones, Brant Daugherty looks dashing as Ana’s personal bodyguard, and Amy Price-Francis emotes a tad too much in her minor supporting role. Eric Johnson as the one-note villain, Jack Hyde, does seek to add a few notes to his evil character. All are lackluster at best, given the weakest of material to portray.

    Yet, the real fault lies more with the best-selling source. In adapting the purple prose of his wife’s tawdry novel, screenwriter Niall Leonard never makes this melodrama believable. The dull direction of James Foley seems more interested in the luxurious trappings than actually creating an interesting movie. It is all so formulaic: Christian and Ana look hot and horny, begin to talk dirty, have foreplay with various hand-held instruments, cue music ballad for mood, show Ms. Johnson’s breasts, glimpse at Mr. Dornan’s dimpled derrière, tastefully-shot short sex romp follows, fade out to next scene. Just dreadful…and not the least bit sexy.

    So, let me just end with one ripe laughable quote to belabor my point:

    “ Babies are caused by sex…and we have a lot of it.”

    ‘Nuff said. Fifty Shades Freer may have come full circle, and it is hopelessly as loopy as ever.

    Visit my blog at: http://www.dearmoviegoer.com 

    ANY COMMENTS: Please contact me at: jadepietro@rcn.com

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