The Big Picture

Fifty Shades Freed

The third and final installment in the kinky Fifty Shades trilogy initiated by first-time author, E. L. James, 7 years ago is out, once again just on time to get millions of innocent men dragged into theatres for Valentine’s Day.

As its title suggests, Fifty Shades Freed finally delivers us from one of the most ludicrous cinematographic franchise in recent years (so that’s already something). Returning as the ostensibly naive Anastasia Steele and the stony, damaged millionaire Christian Grey, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan painfully paddle to the finish line in this ultimate chapter focusing on the same incredibly far-fetched love story.

The new movie picks up where we left the 2 lovebirds off: About to get married. Triumphant over the events and ill-intentioned people seeking to keep them apart, Ana and Christian, at last, tie the knot – this time just not around Ana’s wrists. Happily declared man and wife, the couple enjoys a honeymoon in Europe where they consume their marriage like horny bunnies (we didn’t except any less). But the happy little holiday is cut short when Ana begins to assess Christian’s desire to have children (hint: he doesn’t) and Ana’s former evilly named boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) is back for revenge.

Universal Pictures

Another poor and ridiculous plot

One area in which Fifty Shades Freed doesn’t disappoint is that, just like with its 2 predecessors, “there’s hardly a plot to be found.” Once again, we get to indulge (or not) in “an ad campaign for the one-percent lifestyle,” made of “narrative fragments, lazily tossed together alongside a neglected supporting cast,” that constitute “no more than a flimsy causeway connecting bonking sessions.”

With each “ludicrous plot twists, stilted line delivery, and too-laughable-to-be-hot sex scene,” the film “rarely delivers the goods while trying hard to give fans what they came for” through a storyline “so poorly handled.” Barely reaching the “legal definition of feature film,” Freed is “more of a victory lap for those dedicated viewers who really wanted to see Ana and Christian in marriage.”

Johnson takes the lead while Dornan remains as stiff as a wooden dildo

Although “it’s hard to find compliments for Jamie Dornan beyond ‘very athletic’,” “from start to finish, one can’t give Johnson enough credit for making these asinine movies work as well as they do.” The dull pair’s relationship, however, is seeing some changes in its dynamic. Ana is way more assertive (albeit she’s mostly still fine sharing her life with a “controlling chauvinist”) while Christian has become incredibly boring.

As the quality of the acting goes, with “a minimal sense of humor and a bit of life to her,” “Johnson sells all of this hooey better than Dornan,” who “three films in, hasn’t gotten much better as an actor,” “giving his line readings like he’s reciting from a teleprompter,” and “still comes off as a daytime soap star who somehow hit the lottery.”

Overall, the worst chapter of the sugar-coated S&M franchise

All in all, despite doubling down on the BDSM and bling, nothing has changed much in this final piece of the erotic saga, making it simply a pale, tedious replica of its forerunners. The movie’s primary focus remains “titter-worthy sex scenes and luxury goods,” in what nonetheless continues to be “a much-needed escapism release valve” carried by a smart marketing team.

“Certainly the weakest of the three,” Fifty Shades Freed “seems embarrassed to embrace its own pervy nature.” But hey, “never has a drawer filled with vibrators looked as elegant and fanciful as it does here.”

Best quotes from the reviews:

“Viewers begin to grow tired of the same old bedroom routine.” – Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

“I went into this trilogy with my safe word ready, but I never had to use it.” – Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair

“It’s kitsch that looks in the mirror and deludes itself into thinking it sees art staring back.” – Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

“Previously on ‘One Bruise at a Time'” – Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times