Cleveland, Ohio — For a series that was always meant for the people who think that chicken doesn’t require seasoning and that ‘spicing it up in the bedroom’ was turning off the lights, the conclusion of E.L. James’ fanfic-turned-novel-turned-cinematic-trilogy ended about the way one would expect it to: rushed, with little left to the imagination.
I’m talking about the story. While on a surface level it engages the audience in the story of the hyper-sexual, star-crossed couple with the introduction of its elements, it fails to capitalize on some decent storytelling that would have been a quick fix before production of these movies even began.
“Fifty Shades Freed” picks up where Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) left off: with them getting married, leaving behind the troubles of their relationship and the people who threatened to tear them apart. However, as soon as their vows are spoken, old and new faces begin to show up and rain on their parade. From the bewitching real estate agent Gia Matteo (Arielle Kebbel)— who has the hots for Mr. Grey— to Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), a dangerous man from Anastasia’s past who has come back for revenge.
The plot moves along at a pace where people hoping to watch their series at this point will realize that the filmmakers made no real effort to re-introduce characters. The fact is that most of the secondary characters from this series are so brief and one-dimensional that they aren’t very memorable anyway. It’s weird to see characters from the first and second films appearing in the background and treated like they matter to the story.
However, at the end of the day, it’s all about Christian and Anastasia, their romantic and sexual endeavors and the metaphorical progression of their relationship moving from Christian’s sexual control to Anastasia’s control of their relationship, keeping them together and keeping his more carnal desires at an ‘appropriate level.’
Speaking of that, their chemistry has gotten slightly better since their first pairing in the original “Fifty Shades”. Dornan’s delivery is stoic most of the time, but there are times where he can shine, especially when the emotions are seething anger and the ‘sexy cry’. Johnson shows some range here and has improved as an actress since the series’ first installment, but is not entirely convincing enough when working with Dornan, with the exception of their sex scenes.
The main issue with “Freed” is identical to its predecessor, 2017’s “Fifty Shades Darker.” While “Fifty Shades of Grey” took a great deal of time to introduce the characters, Christian’s sexual fantasies and Ana’s wishy-washy attitude about whole submissive-dominant mentality of their relationship, “Fifty Shades Freed” has lots of sub-plots that either aren’t resolved or are resolved so quickly that they didn’t even feel like problems. Most issues the main characters go through are treated as slight nuisances by the writing, a means to an end to have a metaphorical martial spat through rough or sensual sex, depending on the situation they’re in.
Despite being more entertaining by way of not making themselves look or feel too serious, “Darker” and “Freed” both sacrifice plot for flashy montages, high-production glitz and royalties for glittery pop songs to pay over close-ups of orifices and the areas around them.
I’d recommend “Fifty Shades Freed” for those who have already put in the time to invest in watching the series, but for others hoping to jump on towards the end, this is not worth watching. Sure, there are some cutesy moments and a few genuinely funny scenes, but unfortunately, you need more than that to make a satisfying conclusion to a trilogy.
If you’ve been clamoring for some racy, sexy thrills on the big screen, there are plenty of other options out there.
Photo Courtesy Universal