2015 re-introduced the world to Fifty Shades of Grey. Based on the best seller by E.L. James, the big screen adaptation was one of the most talked about films of the year, and also one of the worst, going so far as to end on an abrupt, unneeded cliffhanger that didn’t necessarily tease the sequel to come, but instead leave the audience in a perplexed state of being. Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) has left Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his abusive ways for good. Or at least until this film starts, Christian merely demanding her presence at dinner, and look at that, she comes along, their relation kicking back into gear as if it never left.
One of the reasons for Anastasia’s departure after the last film concluded, which puzzlingly has very little to do with Christian’s overall creepiness and stalker nature, is that she couldn’t handle his contracted punishments. She asked to show him the worst it can get, so he gives it to her, spanking her several times before she leaves in frustration. Ignoring all problems from the first film, as that tragedy is long in the past now, what’s curious about this sequel (amongst many things) is the fact that she seems to have gotten over this. At one point, she even begs him to spank her again, contradicting the character they’ve set up (if she constitutes as a legitimate character) for the sake of having another sexual encounter between the two leads.
Despite attempts being made to focus in more on the sexual side of things, screenwriter Naill Leonard, who’s married to the book’s author, still attempts to give this film some sort of a plot. Christian Grey’s previous submissive’s come back to haunt him, stalking him in similar ways that he stalks them. The plots come in high demand, never lasting more than five minutes. Elena’s screen time is about as uninteresting as can be, her character given three scenes, all of which she spends throwing shade at Anastasia for no justifiable reason, and the exact same critique can be given to the character of Leila (Bella Heathcote). There’s zero consequences to any of her actions, merely leaving Anastasia shocked for thirty or so seconds before the plot moves right along.
It’s insulting to watch this film insist that she’s some strong, independent woman, when all she does is let everyone around her trample all over her. Everything that happens in this film happens because of Christian, at one point a side character even telling her he did something because he knew she’d say no if he asked. She’s taken advantage of scene after scene. Her boss, played by Eric Johnson, says he’s not forcing Anastasia to sleep with him, just as he tries to force her to sleep with him, and the film seems to enjoy this. Good things happen to her because of his actions, yet none of which were her doing. All of them happen because of a thing somebody else did at an earlier point in the film, once again showing just how weak and unsupported of a character she is.
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