Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

   Director: James Foley  With: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan  Release Date: Feb 9, 2018 R. 1h. 45 min.  

Director: James Foley
With: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan
Release Date: Feb 9, 2018
R. 1h. 45 min.  


The climax has arrived in that of James Foley’s “Fifty Shades Freed,” but much like an elderly couple celebrating their 40th anniversary, this climax is far more whimperish than it should be. That’s the end of my sexual jokes for this review, I promise. Nonetheless, the franchise of coition and unarousing kinkiness has finally decided to rest its efforts at telling stories. Stories that are attemptively meant to find a cathartic finale for the passionate fans of the franchise, but even for those few members of the audience, "Fifty Shades Freed" will most likely feel like a climax that is anything but exciting. 

“Fifty Shades” is obviously a franchise that has caused most of us film enthusiasts to feel like Benedict Cumberbatch from “The Imitation Game.” Questioning whether or not we truly know what we’re talking about, and attempting to solve the never-ending mystery of audience approval for a franchise that is anything but satisfying. For those who need their episode recaps for this particular episode of the daily soap opera meets Cinemax, feel free to read my last two reviews of the franchise. You can skip to the bottom of each one if you like, and just get to the answer you already knew was coming. 

This particular entry to the franchise is focusing on the trial and tribulations of a marriage bathed in secrecy. Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) finds herself battling for privacy from the public eye while attempting to gain traction in becoming an equal in her marriage. The dominant and smoldering Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) finds himself in a more vulnerable state than ever, which allows for treachery to occur. The scary and dangerous Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) is more obsessed than ever, and his vengeance is within fingertips reach as he attempts to bring the happy couple from cloud nine back down to Earth. Can you taste the sarcasm yet? If you bought any of that crap as either exciting or entertaining, then this film is for you. For the rest of us who notice the sheer heinousy of these films, we’re getting everything we expected.

Every sexually charged scene feels incredibly awkward, but this time around it's far less creative. The sex is more focused on being passionate and sensual, which is an attempt to make up for the over the top S&M trash from the previous entries of the franchise, but an attempt that falls face first on the thin ice it finds itself skating upon. I say thin ice because this franchise has been receiving diminishing returns upon its continued investments, despite those returns still being plenty enough to persuade the studio to keep printing and copying a franchise for future generations. You can most likely expect more risky tales of the “Beauty and the Beast” storyline that has become overutilized and misunderstood by less than qualified fan fiction writers. 

There is a lot of passive aggression to be found in this review, because “Fifty Shades” as a franchise represents the sheer ignorance that is the studio system. Don’t believe me? Then lets take a look at the third entry in the spotlight focused mannered it desires to achieve. First off the sex has lost all stimulation (if it ever had any, to begin with), and the actors are noticeably representative of a vacuum of passion. The disinterested gazes, the fake smiles, and the sheer lack of enthusiasm to be found in every line delivery is genuinely astonishing. The first film had some bad acting, but at least they were trying to make these lines of stupidity sound believable. This time around, Dornan and Johnson are unable to find the will to place any effort into the passion of their characters. They feel and act like two empty models in which both are pretty to look at but as stale as a potato salad. 

The technicality of the film is laughable, and the screenplay itself is attempting to make up for past sins. The camera never has any moments of vibrancy or investment. The scenery behind the scenes is pretty and luxurious, but the entirety of the shot compositions are stale and attemptively painted with enough quality to be viewable. It harkens back to its previous siblings of abomination in which it is unable to add any dose of creativity or originality to its visual taste. You can say the same for the screenwriting in which E.L. James and the screenwriters have finally decided to give Mrs. Grey (Dakota Johnson) some independence. Finally, she has some say in the decision making, and the title is ironically fitting because that's what excellent writing is right? Wrong, because the obviousness of this entire story is what keeps it from becoming anything more than a dull fulfillment at a shotty attempt at fanfiction. 

There are many moments of the film that feel like the screenwriter is reaching through the proverbial fourth wall of the silver screen, and is violently shaking you and screaming at you to "like" the movie because it has symbolism and metaphors. The idea of the submissive heroin becoming equal to her partner, and his symbolic character arc of dissipating from the beast like dominatrix to the vulnerable and tender husband. It's the taming of the animal and the extenuating of female sexuality. They are becoming free of their proverbial chains of imprisonment and running towards freedom. I get it. The problem is that I could care less about that trivial screenwriting because it's never given enough steam or enough focus to become poignant. Much like the actors depicting this screenplay, the screenwriting is very pretty on a surface level but struggles to create any sense of enthusiasm in the crooks and crannies that matter the most. 

“Fifty Shades Freed” is most likely the proverbial start to a constant barrage of knockoffs and recreations of a storyline that is suggesting that female submissiveness to a male counterpart is encouraged and not hindered. This franchise continues to raise complex questions with no satisfactory answers to them. Questions like: “Why is this franchise remotely successful?” or “How are there actual fans of these stories?” Luckily this overly long and overly unimaginative franchise has reached its proverbial climax. A hallowed and disinterested climax that is both unsatisfying for both parties involved and venturing down the path of genuine appallment. 

If this franchise tickles the hair on your chinny chin, then enjoy its conclusion and its week-long prominence at the box office. “Black Panther” is coming to take the proverbial throne back to its rightful owner, the sexy and genuinely entertaining land of superheroes. A level of sustained quality that “Fifty Shades” will never match in both a cinematic and literary fashion. Sorry to be petty, but after seeing all three of these movies in theaters, I believe I've earned the right to seize a moment of cathartic finality for myself.