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Fifty Shades Freed Review

February 9, 2018 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Fifty Shades Freed - Box Office
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Fifty Shades Freed Review  

Directed By: James Foley
Written By: Niall Leonard; Based on the book by E.L. James
Runtime: 105 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Dakota Johnson – Anastasia Steele
Jamie Dornan – Christian Grey
Eric Johnson – Jack Hyde
Max Martini – Jason Taylor
Brant Daugherty – Luke Sawyer
Marcia Gay Harden – Grace Trevelyan Grey
Arielle Kebbel – Gia Matteo
Rita Ora – Mia Grey
Luke Grimes – Elliot Grey
Eloise Mumford – Kate Kavanagh

Credit to the marketing team for Universal Pictures. With a marketing tagline for the latest and final cinematic installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey film series such as “Don’t miss the climax,” you know they are sort of in on the joke. Based on the third and final book in the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James, Fifty Shades Freed offers fans the raging conclusion to the steamy love affair between Anastasia Steele (Johnson) and Christian Grey (Dornan), a billionaire corporate entrepreneur who is into BDSM.

After Christian and Dornan got back together in the last film, Fifty Shades Darker, they faced some adversity and ended up getting engaged. The film picks up at their wedding, with Ana and Christian getting married without a hitch. But the wedded bliss of their honeymoon is soon broken up after Ana’s sleazy ex-boss, Jack Hyde (Johnson), managed to infiltrate Christian’s building and steal some of his files. Hyde wants revenge on both Ana and Christian.

The rest of the movie is roughly Ana and Christian adjusting to their new arrangement of married life, which is as painfully awkward as one might imagine. Christian is still very controlling and restrictive over Ana, and Ana doesn’t want to be Christian’s prize bird kept in a cage. So, why did she agree to marry him in the first place? Meanwhile, Hyde’s plot against the Greys is like a B-plot in some bad procedural or espionage thriller drama.

Fifty Shades Darker was nowhere near being a good movie. However, it was hilariously bad and offered nonstop laughs in a packed house. People are mystified and enthralled by the badness of a movie such as The Room but low-budget independent movies that are as bad as The Room are not as uncommon as one would imagine.

The Fifty Shades movies actually have considerable budgets. The second movie featured two Academy Award winners in Marcia Gay Harden and Kim Basinger. The director was James Foley, who returns for Fifty Shades Freed. Foley previously directed the cinematic version of Glengarry Glen Ross. That’s a very good quality film with some classic moments. The point is that a movie with technically all those things going for it should not be this bad, but it is. That’s arguably more mind-boggling than a cheap, bad low-budget picture like The Room.

Unfortunately, Fifty Shades Freed is not quite as unintentionally hilarious as Fifty Shades Darker. It has its moments. Such moments are when Ana and Christian are talking like actors in a goofy comedy, but they don’t know they are in a goofy comedy. Their chemistry is non-existent, so the romantic scenes are less than believable.

What really hurts Fifty Shades Freed is that Anastasia and Christian have never been more unlikable. At least in Fifty Shades Darker there seemed to be a near self-awareness for the ridiculousness of this film franchise with the epic lingering shot of The Chronicles of Riddick poster in Christian’s childhood room, the scene with Ana watching Christian exercising in the gym, and of course, the Ben Wa ball sequence. A lot of that is eschewed for how downright ugly the Christian/Anastasia actually turns out to be.

Christian and Anastasia just appear to have a very toxic relationship. Christian is obsessively controlling and restrictive over Anastasia. He treats her like an object and a prize. He blanches at the idea of having children with Anastasia because he doesn’t want to “share” her, and she wants to give her the whole world. Anastasia for her part seems to be more in love with the idea of Christian Grey and being with such a person rather than actually loving him. He rarely comes off as lovable, charming or endearing in this film. In fact, he literally never exudes those qualities at all. Sure, he’s probably handsome and attractive to the opposite sex. He wields large sums of money and power, but he doesn’t seem to have much beyond that.

The dialogue and script are still insanely inept. That does continue the penchant for moments of unintentional comedy. For example, Christian trudges into Anastasia’s office after she’s been promoted to the job of new Fiction Editor at her publishing company and bemoans how his e-mails to her have bounced because she doesn’t want to use an e-mail address with “Grey” as her last name.

Outside of that, there’s a multitude of subplots that introduced in the film and then subsequently dropped like a bad habit. There’s some vague intrigue toward Christian’s brother, Elliott (Grimes), apparently cheating on Anastasia’s best friend, Kate (Mumford). That doesn’t really go anywhere. There’s another subplot involving Kim Basinger’s character from the last film, Elena Lincoln, that also doesn’t go anywhere, making its presence relatively pointless. It’s nothing more than cheap, forced drama.

Fans of the books still might find Fifty Shades Freed appealing. But for couples or viewers who are in the mood for something romantic, there’s much better fare out there.

The final score: review Very Bad
The 411
While Fifty Shades Darker was way more hilarious and unintentionally comedic, Fifty Shades Freed is more troubling as the flaws of the Christian and Anastasia relationship are way more glaring and upfront. It's hard to root for the future of such an insanely toxic pairing. The film is badly acted, badly directed and badly written. The leads have little to no chemistry, and the romance is ice cold rather than sizzling hot. There's very little that's compelling or engaging about Fifty Shades Freed. It's only redeemable qualities is the script's unintentional comedy and how fun it's more fun to watch with a large audience. Why anyone would like Fifty Shades Freed outside of marveling at its general badness is a mystery.