Director: James Foley
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Brant Daugherty, Eloise Mumford, Tyler Hoechlin

It’s all come down to this. The conclusion of a trilogy that has left us on the edge of our seat wondering how it will all end is finally here. This statement is legitimately true for some viewers who have devoured the book series by EL James soaking in the kinky romance between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. For me, I’m wondering what else could happen to give this story some life. Fifty Shades Freed opens with the wedding of the century when Ana (Johnson) and Christian (Dornan) finally proclaim, “I do.” They jettison off to France for their honeymoon to learn that someone has broken into Grey Enterprises and set off an explosive device. Their honeymoon is cut short in order to come home and get to the bottom of what’s happening. The suspect is Ana’s old boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) who was fired in the previous movie for harassing her. Naturally Ana is now given a two person security detail that follows her every move and sits outside her office waiting for something to happen. Ana and Christian’s first few weeks of marriage are filled with ups and downs as they deal with Ana’s stalker as well as another family surprise that throws Christian’s identity for a loop.

Having never read the books, I thought the first movie in this trilogy was better than expected. Ana was not nearly the annoying character I was led to believe. The creative team tried to make it as artistic as possible in hopes of making it more than an R-rated Lifetime movie of the week. If rumors were true, author EL James was unhappy and wanted more creative control over the second film, Fifty Shades Darker, and now Fifty Shades Freed. She went so far as to having her husband Niall Leonard pen the screenplays for these last two films. Therein lies the issue as the dialogue is quite laughable and hokey at times forcing the actors to work their damnedest to try to stay as straight-laced as possible.

In terms of story, this final entry has more plot than the second film, but it’s painfully obvious what little story they have stretched over three movies. For a series so focused on sex and bondage, it’s dealt with in a tame matter, despite this being the series’ climax. Why not go all in for one last hurrah? Freed does a disservice by not talking about the role this can play in marriage; instead it focuses too much on the ludicrous stalker plotline. Sure it gives the characters some sort of conflict, but again, it’s so absurd that James and Leonard don’t know how to execute it. Try not to act too surprised when it just fizzles out by the end. I’ve seen more suspense in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries project. It leaves the supporting cast with very little to do to bid adieu to their characters. As Christian’s sister, Rita Ora gets a bit more screen time and gets to supply the film’s main theme song as a duet with Liam Payne. Marcia Gay Harden and Tyler Hoechlin are given one or two scenes apiece. Pretty Little Liars’ star Brant Daugherty appears throughout as Ana’s bodyguard but is forced to stand around and look pretty with minimal dialogue given to him.

As our main couple Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan finally look comfortable as a screen couple. The chemistry doesn’t feel as forced as before. Maybe I’m just used to it by now. The film works best when we get to see Johnson fully stand her ground as Ana. She may be Mrs. Grey on paper, but she pushes to keep her own identity present in their marriage and insists in keeping her new position as the fiction editor at work. She’s no longer the young, innocent girl being talked down to by Christian or whipped to submission in his red room of pleasure. She feels a bit freer to explore uncharted sexual territories and freely uses her safe word.

There’s not much to say about Fifty Shades Freed as there’s not a whole lot to work off of with this material. These books made a huge splash in pop culture given the sexual S&M world presented, but it never fully materialized on screen given the scandalous nature that had transpired. I really only wondered if Ana would ever put her foot down and stand her ground against Christian. She’s able to do that in this film, so kudos to that bit of character empowerment. I’m probably being overly generous.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Fifty Shades of Boring


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