Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

Fifty Shades Freed poster.pngA climax that's firing blanks

Director: James Foley
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Max Martini, Brant Daugherty, Arielle Kebbel, Fay Masterson, Luke Grimes, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden, Tyler Hoechlin, Hiro Kanagawa

From Disney rides to Danish construction toys, feature films are being made from all kinds of properties. Adaptions of best selling novels are nothing new, but considering the Fifty Shades series began life as fan-fiction of the Twilight series, the profitability of it remains hard to believe. Although, as we reach the final entry in this series, it's rather fitting how it comes off as poorly written fan-fiction.

Now that they're married, Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) believe they can move past the shadowy figures which previously haunted them, and share a life of luxury in wedded bliss. But Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Anastasia's ex-boss, returns with revenge on his mind.

At the centre of these three films, the assortment of people involved have tried to convey the central romance as one worth being invested in. But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it's difficult to be invested in a relationship that's so toxic, with Christian remaining as horrendously controlling. He can best be described as a sulky child, who considers it okay to storm into his wife's office, interrupting a meeting between her and a client, all because she hasn't changed her surname on her work e-mail. Then there's the aftermath of a failed kidnapping attempting on his wife, at their very home. Because she didn't come straight home after work, like Christian ordered, he acts cold to her, as though she's in the wrong for wanting to meet her friend. At one key point, Anastasia tells Christian "You need to grow the fuck up", and her words could not ring more true.

Image result for fifty shades freed youtubeNot helping things is Jamie Dornan, who's clearly uninterested with the material, which is reflected in a performance as emotionally complex as a piece of toast. One point has Christian reflecting on the mistakes he's made with his wife, fearful of losing her, but the performance seems to be channelling somebody that misplaced their keys. You can't blame Dornan for failing to connect with this material, which wouldn't be fit to wipe ones arse with. Thank goodness for small miracles, as Dakota Johnson remains a bright spark wherever possible.

For a franchise that was marketed as taboo breaking and revolutionary in its depiction of sex, it really isn't. Nothing shown on-screen is much different from how the rest of cinema depicts sex, there's just an added parade of sex toys and handcuffs. Not helping things is how the scenes lack any heat, proving as titillating as receiving a spongebath from Freddy Krueger. If anything, the way the camera revels in showing off Christian's seemingly unlimited wealth is more pornographic that the scenes of supposed penetration. If this film were to be cut down for a 12 rating, one gets the impression there'd be little change made overall.

At the heart of it, one wonders if the filmmakers actually know what they wanted to accomplish here. Considering the film opens on our leads getting married, a plot point that's usually left until the end, there's no actual goal in mind with the rest of the running time. Conflict is contrived all the way through, with a car chases needlessly thrown in, just so there's something to fill in the gaps between the uninteresting sex-capades which regularly arise. The idea that an unhinged man with a knife can slip into the home of somebody as rich as Christian, who's on high alert and has hired multiple bodyguards, is ridiculous, and proof that screenwriter Niall Leonard had no idea what to do here. He certainly didn't think of including basic character traits, so actors who barely do anything can just rattle off poorly thought out sexual gags, propose, and get captured.

There's no point in mincing words, Fifty Shades Freed is welcome as genital warts. There's nothing here which justifies a 105 minute long film. Not the glamorisation of toxic and controlling behaviour, not the laughable thriller elements, not the limp sex scenes, and especially not the romance, which is less convincing than the romance of C-3PO and R2D2. Thankfully, the audience are now free from receiving anymore of these torturous films into their eyeballs.

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