‘Fifty Shades Freed’ an Unsatisfying Climax

15FC49DF-7484-4E77-A5FE-0032C42774D3We recently got the third entry of a staple Hollywood franchise in both “Thor” and “Pitch Perfect” so it only seems right that one of the most-mocked trilogies of all-time gets its swan song, too.

“Fifty Shades Freed” is the third and (thank God) final film of the “Fifty Shades” franchise, and follows newlyweds Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) as they must fight off a stalker from Anastasia. Or something like that, I’m not really sure what this movie is about… James Foley returns to direct.

I saw the first “Fifty Shades” in its opening weekend and while finding some joy in its awfulness, it still was #2 on my list of 2015’s worst. I did not actually see the sequel, “Fifty Shades Darker” until this past weekend in preparation for “Freed” (never say movie criticism is not a job), and it’s fine. Certainly not good, but more aimless than awful. “Freed” falls more toward “Darker” than “Grey,” as it has its moments of putrid, unintentionally funny dialogue but more often than not is just boring.

The first and second films had things resembling plots, at least enough to justify their existence as feature-length film. Here, the *entire* plot revolves around Anna needing to hide from her ex-boss (Eric Johnson), who is upset he got fired for sexually assaulting her in the previous film (crazy, right?). We are treated to incredible, edge-of-your-seat tension, like Anna getting mad at a drunk Christian and hiding from him in his room of sex toys or them easily outrunning a car behind them. Invigorating stuff.

The acting here is awful, as expected, and this time around we don’t even have Kim Basinger to offer a sense of gravitas. Dakota Johnson tries, bless her little heart she tries, and on the rare occasion she offers her timid humor to shine through (I’m sure they were improved by her, not in this script). Her chemistry with Dornan remains unconvincing and stoic, which you would expect from two people who have openly stated their distain for the other.

The film just lacks a sense of purpose or coherence, at least something found in the first film which was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. The climax is over within minutes and the cinematography and lighting are all lazy and have a movie-of-the-week feel.

Look, almost no one sees these films because they’re good, but now just ironically to laugh at its many flaws. “Fifty Shades Freed” has some funny moments, and, if I’m being objective, one sequence of moderate tension. But there are so many Oscar-nominated films out right now that if you just feel like seeing a film you should check out one of those, instead of this wannabe Twilight softcore porn.

Critic’s Grade: D+

Universal Pictures

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