By Jack Dignan
It’s really astonishing to me that, after three movies, the Fifty Shades franchise continues to get worse. You’d think that after a critically panned, disastrously received first installment, the writers would improve it in at least the smallest capacity, but nope. Here we are with Fifty Shades Freed, the final installment in the agonizing soft-core porn franchise we’re excusing as cinema, and to all of those who have made it this far without going insane, you deserve a big congratulation. You made it. We win. We’re alive. Now let’s bury this franchise in the past. It’s time to let old things die. Let’s burn these movies to the ground.
Fifty Shades Darker, last year’s second installment, ended with the exciting (?) news that beautiful, abusive, billionaire sex addict Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his reluctant submissive partner Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) are going married. Hooray! After a brief wedding to kick this film off, we’re thrown into their honeymoon, where the two fuck as often as possible while being forced to deal with this little word Christian Grey refuses to believe exists… compromise. Marriage is hard work, as Amy Dunne from Gone Girl will tell us, and so now we get to watch 2 hours of these unlikeable “protagonists” sorting through their shit and trying to convince each other that they’re both happy.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Yep, that’s right. This isn’t just some kinky sex drama where we go from nude beach days to hardcore, incredibly uncomfortable, dildo-related hate sex (that actually happens and these characters consider it to be just another day in your good ole typical relationship, which it most certainly is not). No, Fifty Shades Freed, as all great final chapters are, is a thriller. Kind of. That character from the last one you don’t remember anything about, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), is back with a vengeance, because hey, god forbid a woman doesn’t want to sleep with you, let alone one of your employees.
So not only do we follow the agonizingly long discussions and arguments between Christian and Anastasia, fighting about the future of their family and whether or not it’s okay to have BDSM sex whilst raising a child (there’s way too much screen time spent discussing this), we get an overly sinister villain popping up every now and again to threat Anastasia into…. Well, I don’t really know what he wants in this one. In the last one he was a creepy, perverted, rapist boss, but here, I guess he wants vengeance? Over something? His reasoning feels like an afterthought, tacked on in the final scene as an explanation for having to sit through all of his numbing scenes.
But it’s not as though these kidnapping, violent sequences are even relevant to the plot. Well, that’s to say there is a plot, which there certainly isn’t. Jack Hyde just keeps getting mentioned in passing once every twenty minutes, attempting to remind the audience “hey, this film isn’t all about the sex, you know.” One scene sees him breaking into the Grey household, putting a knife to Anastasia’s throat and then getting caught, only to have this plotline disregarded and not even mentioned for another hour. AND THAT’S NOT THE ONLY PLOTLINE THAT’S JUST DROPPED FOR NO APPARENT REASON. At least Hyde had the decency to follow up on that scene in the third act.
As for the rest of it, literally nothing makes sense. Anastasia and Christian purchase a dreamy house to live in, then literally never move into it. Plus, while they’re there, a sexy real estate agent or whoever the fuck that person was begins flirting with Christian, which, of course, Anastasia isn’t happy about. They set up some big conflict between the two, only to shove the character aside and never show her again. And it gets better! There’s another sub-plot involving Christian’s brother, Elliot (Luke Grimes), who may be a cheating, slutty scumbag, but once he gets engaged, his cheating is just dropped and forgotten as if we didn’t spent fifteen minutes setting it up.
This could easily be a poor editing choice, cutting the film down to the bare necessities, but it feels too incoherent for that. Fifty Shades Freed isn’t incomplete because it was edited that way, it’s incomplete because it was shot and written like that. An attempt is made to show Anastasia overcoming her abusive husband, but it’s all pushed aside because hey, got to end the sex franchise with a sex scene, right? Who gives a shit if it completely undermines their characters and treats women as people who deserve to be abused? Just show us some boobs and that’s it. AND ONCE AGAIN, WHY IS THERE A DISTINCT LACK OF MALE NUDITY IN THESE FILMS? THESE FILMS ARE MADE FOR WOMEN; THEY KNOW WHAT BOOBS LOOK LIKE. GIVE THE AUDIENCE SOME DICK! WE WANT THE DICK!
Honestly, straight up fuck this movie. Perhaps I shouldn’t swear as much in these reviews, but for a franchise with the line “fifty shades of fucked up,” I think it deserves it. Nothing makes sense. Nothing matters. This isn’t what modern cinematic romance should look like. The acting is terrible. Nobody has chemistry. The writing is painful. I genuinely don’t think the writers or filmmakers know a) how normal people talk and behave, and b) how law enforcement works. Oh, and remember that *hilarious* scene in the last one where Christian randomly vanishes in a helicopter, everyone gets worried and then he just rocks up like nothing ever happened? Yeah, they finally give us an explanation for it. And now the scene makes even less sense than ever before.
0 1/2 Stars
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