Fifty Shades Freed (2018)
Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

Genre: Romantic Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

Release Date: February 9th, 2018 MPAA Rating: R

Director: James Foley Actors: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Marcia Gay Harden, Arielle Kebbel

 


 

I

t begins with a wedding, which means there must have been a proposal in the previous chapter. The details are a touch difficult to sort out, since the time between theatrical endeavors and the similarities between other serialized fantasy-dramas allow for understandable conflation. Here, the lavish reception resembles the first of many music-video type arrangements; extreme wealth can make anything and anyone look attractive and exciting – at least temporarily.

“You own this?” blurts Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) as she’s carried onto Christian Grey’s (Jamie Dornan) private jet, as if a threshold to be crossed with his new bride. Apparently, she didn’t bother to fully comprehend his wealth or his various properties. But such is the nature of whirlwind romances, as films like this would have audiences believe. “We need security,” insists Grey, as they honeymoon on Paloma Beach in France, to which Ana counters, “Why?” Once again, it would seem that she never bothered to ask the right questions about his level of fame and fortune. Meanwhile, a shadowy figure breaks into the main server room at Grey Enterprises (something like Batman’s residence) back in the States, stealing personal information and setting fire to the facilities to cover his tracks.

The Greys’ new lives are virtually nonstop vacations to exotic locales, though their relaxation is occasionally interrupted by spontaneous sex, always augmented by handcuffs and riding crops. Curiously, this final entry in the “Fifty Shades” series is the least graphic of the bunch. Emerging from the gratuitous nudity and revelry comes Steele’s hopelessly stupid persona, yet Johnson is laudable for imparting a fitting likability to her air-headed neophyte. Her colleagues at Seattle Independent Publishing think she’s been promoted due to her connections rather than her talent, and the storytelling gives no indication otherwise, but she’s nonetheless convincing as a partly naive, partly insistent, steadily maturing girl who hopes to shape her new spouse into an appropriate partner. It’s not a surprise when talk of a baby leads to mild scorn, especially as this is just one more major component of marriage that went entirely undiscussed.

As the picture transitions from an Audi commercial (moonlighting as a car chase sequence) to a jet-setting daydream and back again to an Audi commercial, there’s decent humor, further undisclosed secrets, a hint of conflict, and marital arguments to be witnessed. These interactions tend to reveal that this couple is little more than spoiled children unready for the realities of an adult relationship. They do, however, find time to roll their eyes at one another, never taking anything too seriously – which is a fine attitude for both the characters and the storytelling approach, as it makes the overdramatic, highly unrealistic scenarios much more palatable.

The plot invents stale predicaments for Cinemax-styled titillation (though “Fifty Shades Freed” surely possesses greater production values and acting than the typical, late-night ‘90s Showtime variety), offsetting the softcore intercourse, yet it’s virtually unmissable to note the length it takes for a simple background check on an old boss, the massive gap beneath the door of the “playroom” (which negates the velvet-laden soundproofing), and Jack Hyde’s (Eric Johnson) unexplainable resources and skills (as if he’s a secret agent). When things become downright comical, it’s nevertheless still watchable in its badness. Strangely – and unforgivably – the two most interesting pieces of the Grey puzzle go wholly unresolved by the end of this trilogy-closing melodrama. Elena (Kim Basinger), the older woman who introduced Christian to the world of domination/submission, and Leila (Bella Heathcote), an ex-girlfriend who was seduced into that same world by Christian, never once make an appearance. It would seem that all of Grey’s BDSM complexities are insignificant next to the limitless finances that fuel adventurous cross-country and international getaways.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10