Fifty Shades Freed

Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) are finally married. As they head off to their honeymoon, things aren’t all whips and handcuffs. Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Ana’s former boss Christian fired when he bought the company, has broken into Grey Enterprises and set fire to their server room. Christian and Ana head home to deal with the situation.

Christian has assigned a security detail to accompany Ana at all times. While she understands it is necessary, she isn’t too happy. Sawyer (Brant Daugherty), her bodyguard, reports her every move back to Christian.

Jack kidnaps Christian’s sister Mia (Rita Ora). He calls Ana and tells her to bring $5 million to him to save Mia. She is not allowed to tell anyone, not even Christian. As she heads off to save Mia, Christian knows something is up.

Fifty Shades Freed is, thankfully, the end of the Fifty Shades trilogy. It continues the course its predecessors set, varying very little from the formula.

As I said in my review for Fifty Shades Darker, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan aren’t great in the movie. Again, a fair amount of blame can be placed on the script. Choppy dialogue and an unfocused story would task even the most talented actors. Johnson’s Ana wants to be empowered, but she finds herself still giving in to every whim of her husband. Dornan is overly possessive, verging on psychotic towards his new wife. He complains she is “showing enough” wearing a bikini on a beach where most women are topless, yet has no complaint when she wears a dress she compares to a napkin. He gets jealous of Ana hanging out with her friends. His anger at Ana keeping her maiden name at work comes off as controlling and a complete overreaction. He doesn’t have the self-confidence he displayed in the last film. He also isn’t as smart as his character is portrayed to be. More on this later. The rest of the cast is there. All of the performances, even from the stars, come across more like a low-budget soap opera than a blockbuster trilogy conclusion.

As for the story, where to start. Fifty Shades Darker was a mess. It wandered in and out of unrelated, unrealistic story lines with no real direction. Fifty Shades Freed follows this same pattern. Questions are asked that are never answered. Seemingly major plot points are shown, only to be completely dismissed later. Story lines are started, only to be discarded as they move to the next. Once they bore of that story line, it is discarded for yet another. It is relentless. Of course, being a Fifty Shades movie, each of these scene transitions is accompanied by a sex scene. In fact, it seems anytime there was a lull in the dialogue or some sort of creative block, a sex scene was thrown in to distract us from what was – or wasn’t – happening on screen. It gets old very quickly. Dakota Johnson spends so much time mostly naked that you start to feel uncomfortable for her and just want to find her a shirt.

As to Christian’s lack of intelligence I mentioned, it is maddening. Warning – this may get slightly spoilery. After Hyde sets the server room on fire, even after he tries to kidnap Ana, Christian is desperately looking for a motive. He has his security team dig up everything they can on Hyde. Sure, this is typical in these situations. However, in just the last movie, Christian buys the publishing company Ana and Hyde work for and promptly fires Hyde for attacking Ana. They find a title page of a book Hyde is writing after searching Hyde’s car. The book’s title is You Owe Me a Life. Yet, somehow, Christian still cannot come up with a motive for Hyde’s actions. They go so far as to mention Hyde spent time in foster care at the same time and place as Christian. Surely there must be a motive hidden there. Of course, this development is overlooked, only to be mentioned at the end of the film, leaving Christian to ponder what would have become of him had he been in Hyde’s place.

In a fitting conclusion to the series, Fifty Shades Free is a hot mess. Trying too hard to be sexy to make you forget about how bad the story is backfires. There are too many unresolved plots and unanswered questions (Why does he always braid her hair? How can she parallel park a high performance car like a pro after having driven it twice?). Again, the film fills a niche and fans of the series will no doubt flock to the movie. If you do feel the need to see this, say you have already invested time in the other two films, I would wait to rent it. It won’t be as awkward as sitting through it in the theater.

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