As part of the February challenge that I’m doing with Big Tuna on Films, I had to see Fifty Shades Freed (2018), despite having not seen any of the other films. While I did watch a summary video on YouTube from Screen Junkies, it didn’t prepare me for the level of boredom that I witnessed. It’s not the worst movie ever, but it’s full of bad dialogue, an awful husband, and more weak dialogue delivered by wooden actors. Simply put; it’s not good.
Fifty Shades Freed release signals the freedom from these bad movies
The film begins with Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) tying the knot. It becomes clear in the first few moments following their union that they don’t really know enough about each other to get married, as it is soon revealed that they’ve never discussed the future possibility of having children, which neither are ready for. Here begins the film’s problem with not really being too concerned with plot. A fire in the server room of the Grey’s company, set by Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), who is Ana’s ex-boss and sexual assaulter from the previous films, ends the newlywed’s honeymoon early.
Once Ana returns to her job, she’s prompted by changing her email to include her new last name, but she says to keep it Steele. In the next scene (which appears to occur merely moments later), Christian arrives stating he tried to email her with the last name of “Gray” and it bounced back. This upsets him greatly, and so, of course, he stormed down to her work to confront her about it. She’s snarky, and a pseudo “I’m a strong, independent woman” conversation takes place, which will later be proven to be a forced character trait and not a real indication of her personality. There is another scene just a few moments after this one, which is all over the trailers, where she confronts the overly flirtatious architect. Again, it’s clearly trying to get across the idea that Ana is a strong woman, and being the submissive to Christian is a choice she is making…as if the audience will believe he is no way is a possessive control freak.
The film continues on with cheesy soap-opera dramas intercut with sadomasochistic sex scenes…well, I’m guessing they’re supposed to be sadomasochistic sex scenes. There are whips and toys hanging in a red room. Ana has a safe word, but really there are more daring sex scenes in the first season of Game of Thrones. Every chance they can have the two leads topless is taken, but the scenes end quickly. They are predominately tame and lacking any believable chemistry. So, if the film was meant to make up for the less than stellar plot with hot and steamy love scenes, it doesn’t.
Once it gets to that promised final climax, it is even more lackluster. The plot that was barely developed comes to its conclusion followed by several minutes of expositional dialogue. Ana and Christian have a boring conversation over an unfunny rich-guy-can’t-cook moment about all the details that the movie never bothered to get to in an effort to close this final chapter. Maybe there was a bigger payoff to be had if I’d watched the other two films, but in judging this film for what it is, there isn’t much to enjoy.
As soon as the screen faded to black and the first word of the credits began to roll, I was out the door. It was a painful hour and forty minutes, but not as bad as I had expected. The relationship between Ana and Christian is toxic, and should not be admired by anyone. There are far better love stories out there with characters who are likable and far more suited for each other. The truth is, I don’t feel any hatred towards this movie, but I also feel no joy. Thus, the film earns an unenthusiastic Avoid like the Plague rating.