Published on February 9th, 2018 | by Dan Nicholls


Fifty Shades Freed

What?  Fifty Shades is still a thing?  Ugh.  Fine.  Someone owes poor Dan a beer for taking this movie review bullet for us.  Thanks Dan.

The hubbub surrounding the Fifty Shades books hasn’t completely translated to audience representation at the box office. The first film broke out with a major opening weekend but faded fast. The next film in the series had a similar trajectory but started considerably lower. So, is there going to be an audience for the third and (supposed) final chapter? You’re goddamn right there is. And if they liked what they saw before, they’re going to eat this installment up.

Right off the hop we’re at the wedding of Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). No time is wasted and we’re whisked off on the newlyweds’ honeymoon before the opening credits have ended. All is sunny, sexy, and expensive for Christian and Ana until dastardly melodrama creeps back in.

Ana’s former boss and the series’ villain, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), is still out for vengeance and looking to destroy the couple’s lives due to past slights that were really his own fault anyway. He’s all talked up to be some ultimate bad dude but he’s just so dumb that Christian and Ana become even dumber for viewing him as a threat. He’s about as cunning as a rock and as tough as a doe.

Quickly shoving the whole Jack business into the background, we’re able to get back to the real meat of the story: Christian and Ana’s newlywed life and an unexpected pregnancy (which should be a spoiler but it’s in the fucking trailers so whatever). This is somehow even less engaging than the stupid stuff with Jack Hyde (never Jack, always Jack Hyde). What does it all add up to? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

These movies are vapid excuses for wealth porn; it doesn’t matter what these characters are doing, what matters is that they look good, drive fancy cars, and sleep in million-dollar penthouses at all times. There’s practically a designer label hanging off every frame in this film. Sure, Christian Grey is a renowned rich playboy in this series, but the glamour overrides the content at each and every turn.

Fifty Shades Freed is really no better or worse than Fifty Shades Darker. It lacks the undeniable edge of Fifty Shades of Grey but as the bondage got dialed back so did the filmmakers’ sense of being daring. The craft on display isn’t so astoundingly bad that it will destroy careers, there’s just much ado about nothing. The real anchor weighing everything down is the script, everything else is just pretty window-dressing hiding a hollow core.

Character points and subplots are introduced and tossed by the wayside immediately. There’s about three scenes where Christian’s brother is suspected of having an affair but the issue gets dropped without resolution and never brought up again. A tantalizing bright spot is introduced with the new character Gia Matteo (Arielle Kebbel) but she’s dropped as soon as we meet her for one scene. Kebbel’s maybe one of the best things about the movie because she radiates the charisma that Dornan and Johnson lack.

Indeed, the genuine sparks between Ana and Christian are few and far between. The two actors don’t seem like they work well together but manage to make it happen when their sexy bodies are on full display. They’re attractive for sure – but they don’t captivate your heart in any way.

At the end of the day, the audience for Fifty Shades Freed is already signed up to sing it home to the bitter end. There’s absolutely no reason to see this one if you haven’t caught Darker and starting at the end will probably just annoy you more than bore you. It’s actually kind of awesome that there’s no exposition provided to remind us of the events of the previous movie – you’re just expected to know where you are and keep up with it. Characters will mention someone and you’ll think, “Who the hell is that?” but the ride keeps on moving and thank goodness for that because having each and every little thing explained off the top would only prolong the suffering.

If you’ve got no choice but to see this series through to the finish line, truthfully, Fifty Shades Freed isn’t going to insult you with its shoddiness. It’s not a good movie – not by any means – but it’ll probably do the trick for its target audience. It’s sad when indifference greets any trilogy at its last installment but no effort was really made to try to raise the bar here. At least now we’re all freed from having to spend any more time in this world.

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is a Vancouver-based, lifelong movie geek who's been a projectionist, critic, director, (accidental) actor, and writer in the industry since E.T. phoned home. @dannicholls

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