UNIVERSAL PICTURES (2018)

 

Director: James Foley

 

Starring: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden, Luke Grimes, Eric Johnson, Rita Ora, Victor Rasuk, Jennifer Ehle

Don’t miss the climax.

 

The painfully self-aware tagline for Fifty Shades Freed is a great signifier of what you can expect for one-hour-forty-five minutes – lots of eye-rolling, maybe a few titters and something that is ultimately not very good. James Foley returned to direct the final movie of the trilogy – under the dictatorship of author EL James (desperate to ensure Foley didn’t try to make her story…better) – and good-sports Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan get to wrap up the stories of Anastasia and Christian Grey.

Newly married and loving life in various exotic locations, Christian Grey (Dornan) and Anastasia Steele/Grey (Johnson) are thrust into unexpected danger after a break-in at Grey Towers leads the authorities to believe the couple are being targeted – and the main suspect is Anastasia’s ex-rapey boss Jack Hyde (Johnson). With personal security guards tailing their every move, the couple carries on with their exotic, sex-fuelled lifestyle – though the pressures of marriage, pregnancy fears, secrets and jealousy threaten to derail the copulatory couple’s bliss. However, the threat of Jack continues to loom and after he is arrested, and then released, things go from bad to worse for the Greys. Not even a trip to Aspen or frequent flings in the Red Room can make the danger disappear.

 

Sigh. Fifty Shades Freed follows the trends set by its predecessors Grey and Darker by simply being pretty terrible - plagued by horrendous dialogue, a bad story (and a repetitive one, at that) and two lead actors desperately trying to bring some earnestness to their hapless roles. Tensionless events are followed by (sometimes inexplicable) strangely edited sex scenes and this is a trend the movie followed ad nauseam. There were a few times during these instances where I had a good chuckle, such was the absurdity of the situations, so I actually had a good time with this movie – but absolutely not in the way director James Foley would have intended. It’s fair to say if you like the first two entries to the Grey trilogy, this will be right up your alley. If you didn’t, then you certainly won’t find anything to enjoy here.

 

Johnson and Dornan try so very hard to raise the material they are given, and it seems unfair to blame them for the movies overall lack of quality. With violently bad dialogue, made to act out endless dead-end scenes and performing badly-edited, unsensual sex scenes, the pair were already at a disadvantage and I’m not sure anyone could’ve done any better given the material. Hey, at least they look good.

 

The writing throughout is painful. The attempts at creating dramatic threads fall flat due to the lack of any tension or peril and the naff villain does nothing to help this. One of the main antagonists is basically revealed once they enter Anastasia’s office simply by being told to look slightly aggrieved and let off signs that they are in fact a wrongun. The writing hits a crescendo as Anastasia explains that Christian treats everybody well, having spent the entire trilogy treating everybody like crap. Every beat is tied together with a limp sex scene – there’s one that is so shoehorned in that it’s near-impossible not to be aghast as it unfolds – and in between the lack of tension and vanilla rutting, characters show off just how much money they have. Money, argue, sex, sleep, repeat. Each unsteamy act is accompanied by generic music beats (AKA a modern soundtrack of trendy artists) that lend an air of retro softcore porn / The Naked Gun vibe to the scenes. It must have been fun to film, though. Some of the locations look stunning and generally, the movie itself looks nice. It’s certainly an exercise in sharp suits and cute dresses – the wardrobe department came out on top here.

 

One of the “kinky-fuckery” (shudder) moments involves Anastasia dripping ice cream into the body hair of Christian which is disgusting in every way. Hairy ice cream? Plus, he gets his toned arse out on the kitchen worktop and I really hope they sprayed it with anti-bacterial spray before retreating to bed – who wants to eat off of the fumes of Grey glutes?

 

There is a great-looking steak in the movie, though.

 

Fifty Shades Freed is not the worst movie you’ll ever see, it’s just not very good. In short, like the two movies that came before, it’s awfully bland which, for a saga that revels in its ‘naughtiness’, is inexplicable. It would seem as if the Grey saga is now at an end, so hopefully, the climax satisfied you in some way. For me, Fifty Shades Freed delivered an unintentionally fun viewing experience but it will only ever be a one night stand.

February 12th 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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