Fifty Shades Freed (2018) Movie Review

Fifty Shades Freed

Fifty Shades Freed is the third and final installment in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. It takes place just after the ending of Fifty Shades Darker, Anastasia and Christen Grey have now gotten married. While perfectly content to travel around the globe on a massive sex filled honeymoon trip, their travels are cut short as the new couple is threatened by Anastasia’s ex-boss, Jack.

Fifty Shades of Grey is truly a marvel in the sense that none of us will quite understand how and why the Fifty Shades series became the cultural phenomenon that it did. I am very clearly not the target audience of this series so I suppose you should take this review with a grain of salt. If you are a fan of this series you’ll probably enjoy this movie just fine enough. I imagine most who are inclined to see this movie have already seen it and don’t need a review for the movie. The people who weren’t going to see this movie probably didn’t need a review to tell them not to see it.

 

The Wedding Fifty Shades Freed
Fifty Shades Freed [Credit: Universal Pictures]

Fifty Shades of Grey was a movie that maybe could have worked if it broke free of its source material (and if the author didn’t have such a stranglehold on the film). I always felt somewhere in the mess lied a potentially good story in the vein of a movie like Shame. As it stands, Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t a good movie but it wasn’t a terrible movie either.  Grey had the semblance of a plot, character, a structure and there did seem to be some effort behind the production. It may not have done any of these things very well, but at least the basic elements of these story traits were there.  Fifty Shades Darker meanwhile is one of the worst mainstream produced film I’ve seen in a long time. No sense of narrative, no real plot, lackluster sex scenes, Darker commits the sin of not even being trashy good fun. These movies aren’t aiming high and if it can’t even achieve the level of trash then what is the point?

Fifty Shades Freed is a bit more bearable than Fifty Shades Darker but still not as good as Grey (which isn’t much of a standard). Freed has a bit more of a plot, in the loosest sense of the definition, and I think Dakota Johnson does her best to make the horrendous lines of dialogue work. But that doesn’t mean much when most of the movie has the same faults as the rest of the series.

Villian Fifty Shades Freed
Fifty Shades Freed [Credit: Universal Pictures]

The movie at times feels like a random collection of scenes rather a cohesively narrative.  Things happen randomly and then are seemingly tossed aside for another sex scene and relationship fight.  The most contradictory thing about Fifty Shades Freed is it wants to be erotic but the story isn’t suited for it.

Fifty Shades is no longer about sex (which is the series main selling point!). The first movie was at least about Anastasia learning about this whole new world of sex, so having all of the sex scenes made sense. The sequel’s plots (if they really have any plot) don’t really have much to do with sex at all.  The movies became more about Christian and Ana’s one on one relationship and the people that get involved with it.  Since it isn’t primarily about sex anymore it makes the sex scenes feel oddly out of place in its own series.  I would argue that one (two if I’m feeling generous) of the sex scenes in Fifty Shades Freed actually has any sort of narrative purpose. This would be like if Die Hard didn’t have anything to do with stopping terrorists but the action scenes still happened.  Yes if a movie is about a relationship it makes sense for the characters to have sex in the movie but not half a dozen scenes worth.

Ana and Christian also make for a horrible couple.  The only saving grace to their relationship is the movie makes a point to show they are consenting to one another.  Outside of that they aren’t cute and they are terrible at communicating with one another. The drama between them in the movie is incredibly forced and feels like more of a way to break up the sex scenes with something that might seem like drama.  They go from being happily married to on the verge of breaking up over things that could be easily solved or avoided.  You’re supposed to like the pair together, or at the very least believe the strain and arguments.  The divide between the two characters in this movie wouldn’t be believable to anybody in a normal healthy relationship.  These two quite frankly seem horrible for one another and should probably see different people.

Dakota Johnson is perhaps the only stand out of this movie (and the entire trilogy). She still has cringe-worthy moments but Johnson is clearly trying to make it all work.  There are a few moments where some genuine acting sneaks out on screen. I hope that this trilogy doesn’t sour her potential career because I think she has a very likable screen presence.

Fifty Shades Freed Picture
Fifty Shades Freed [Credit: Universal Pictures]
There are many other things I could pick apart or could complain about in this movie (the dialogue is horrendous, the acting is pretty bad etc.) but my personal interest in the movie is so far removed that I find myself not interested in tearing this movie apart bit by bit.  Fifty Shades Freed was clearly not made for me (and at this point, I get that). My friend looked over at me in the middle of the movie and described the expression on my face as, “miserable”. If you’re a fan of the previous two (whether that be ironically or not) you’ll like this movie and you won’t need this review as a blessing to see it.  If someone were to ask me what word I would use to sum up how I felt about this movie, I would answer with the word, “boring.”  A movie (supposedly) about sex should be anything but boring.

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