Fifty Shades Freed

50 shades of freed-rev

Fifty Shades Freed  (2018)    Universal/Drama    RT: 105 minutes    Rated R (strong sexual content, nudity, language)    Director: James Foley    Screenplay: Niall Leonard    Music: Danny Elfman    Cinematography: John Schwartzman    Release date: February 9, 2018 (US)    Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Max Martini, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Bruce Altman, Arielle Kebbel, Callum Keith Rennie, Robinne Lee, Brant Daugherty, Andrew Airlie, Amy Price-Francis, Fay Masterson, Ashleigh LaThrop, Tyler Hoechlin, Kirsten Alter, Hiro Kanagawa.

 

Rating:  fullstar1fullstar1star-empty1star-empty1

 Because it just isn’t Valentine’s Day without Christian and Anna. Fifty Shades Freed is the third and final installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy; I can only express relief that we’re finally free of this series of dopey erotic dramas that make one long for the brilliance of Adrian Lyne’s 9 ½ Weeks (1986). It’s been said that it ends the series on a low note but I wasn’t aware there were any high notes. The first two movies made a butt-load of money and I have no doubt this one will repeat their success. It’s as bad as its predecessors, so bad it’s laughable. Too bad it doesn’t have as many unintentional laughs as last year’s Fifty Shades Darker. That Fifty Shades Freed falters even as an unintentional comedy pretty says it all.

fifty shades freed Audiences know pretty much what to expect when they go to see Fifty Shades of anything. These movies take place in an alternate world where there are no ugly or fat people. Everybody belongs to the 1%. They live in huge mansions or penthouse apartments. They drive around in expensive luxury vehicles. Plot is secondary; the Fifty Shades movies exist for no other reason than to show the main characters engage in freaky sex. The kinky couple at the center of the drama, gazillionaire Christian Grey (Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Johnson), is locked in a never-ending struggle for control in their relationship. They try different sexual things in the bedroom or “playroom”, usually something that freaks Anna out. This time, it involves a butt plug. Fifty Shades Freed, like its two forerunners, is a dirty movie with higher aspirations.

 By “higher aspirations”, I mean Fifty Shades Freed wants to explore the psychological landscape of its male protagonist. Specifically, why is Christian such a control freak? He has abandonment issues related to his biological mother. SPOILER ALERT! He loses it when Anna gives him news that most husbands would be elated to receive. He’s worried that he won’t be a good father. This isn’t depth, it’s pop psychology of the Dr. Phil variety. As for Anna, she’s become stronger and more assertive since her first encounter with Mr. Grey when she was a naïve college student. When she witnesses the attractive architect (Kebbel, Vampire Diaries) building their new home openly flirting with Christian, she tells her in no uncertain terms to back off. Basically, she grew a pair.

 In addition to the sex and psychology, there’s also a stalker subplot involving Jack Hyde (Johnson, Rookie Blue), the creep that got fired after attempting to sexually assault Anna in the workplace in the previous movie. He has it out for Christian and the reasons go beyond him losing his job. It’s not hard to connect the dots and figure out the personal connection between the two men long before the script reveals it. Fifty Shades Freed ends with a kidnapping and ransom drop during which Christian thinks Anna is trying to leave him. It leads to a silly scene where he plays detective, putting pieces together to figure out what’s really going on. I have an idea, why not make a movie where he and Anna open their own private detective agency? Think Hart to Hart with S&M.

 I think I’ve given you a pretty good idea of what Fifty Shades Freed is about. It’s definitely a bad movie. Directed by James Foley (Fifty Shades Darker), it repeats the flaws of the other two chapters. The two leads still have absolutely no chemistry together. Dornan still can’t act to save his life. Once again, he’s more like the spokesmodel in a commercial for luxury cars or men’s cologne. His line readings are as unconvincing as Steven Seagal trying to do Shakespeare. Johnson fares much better. She’s come a long way in the three years since the first movie. While I would hardly call her performance in Fifty Shades Freed Oscar-level, it is pretty good considering what little the script gives her to work with. Also, she’s very easy on the eyes. One observation, her boobs should have been given a separate credit since they make several appearances throughout the movie. It’s not even worth it to mention the supporting characters. They each show up for a few scenes without really adding anything other than unnecessary side drama (e.g. a marriage proposal).

 Fifty Shades Freed oozes with style. I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point out that the Fifty Shades movies always look great. Cinematography and set design are two of their strongest assets. The absence of substance balances things out. The soundtrack is filled with forgettable pop songs by the likes of Ellie Goulding and Sia. However, the main thing people want to know about Fifty Shades Freed is if it’s sexy? I think it’s too silly to be erotic or sexy. I rolled my eyes a few times. I’ll never look at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream without having to stifle laughter. But does it really matter what I think of Fifty Shades Freed? These movies have a loyal fan base who will see it regardless of what critics have to say. Like the Star Wars movies, they’re critic-proof. I can safely say fans won’t be disappointed in this one.

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