The only thing that is free in this film is the gratuitous laughter that comes from how utterly seriously it takes itself. The final instalment of EL James’ erotic romance series, Fifty Shades Freed is predictably shallow, superficial and outrageously off-putting. Director James Foley also helmed the second film, Fifty Shades Darker, which probably explains the series’ consistent awfulness. On a positive note, the film is comically idiotic without meaning to be, so it does provide a somewhat relaxing watch, in the sense that nobody is actually paying attention to the narrative.
Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), archetypal virginal half-wit, has now been promoted in both name and status thanks to a misogynistic, spoiled billionaire with ‘mummy issues’. Ten minutes in and we are already subjected to a disturbing level of sexism and possessiveness: two dances into their own wedding reception, Christian (Jamie Dornan) informs his new bride that he is “sick of sharing [her] with all the riff-raff”.
There is an attempt to create drama and suspense through an attempted abduction and a stalker-like predator who endangers the safety of our protagonist. The only problem is that it’s impossible to care about said protagonist. Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) has both the mantle of being the series villain and thus the awful wooden ‘bad-guy’ lines to accompany his tortured, metaphorical surname. Carrying on from the last film, he seeks revenge for a life that he believes is owed to him. Half of the audience can probably relate to him at this point.
As per usual, good triumphs over evil and Anastasia goes from having the energy to handle a gun to dropping into a coma, in a mere matter of seconds. Yet, that is more forgivable than her obstinate insistence on staying with an abusive and emotionally manipulative partner.
Despite the fact that this is the last film of the trilogy, there has been almost no moral progression for Mr Grey, who seeks to punish his wife for “defying” him, since despite professing to love him, she does not obey his every word (*shock horror*). Yet again, we are transported to a land in time where women are the objects of their husband’s whims.
This isn’t helped by the fact that Dakota Johnson would most likely have more chemistry with a potato chip than her on-screen lover. Apparently taking note of the ‘lack of spice’ response to the last film, these two mannequins get busy every five minutes, the most ridiculous time being a car scene which thankfully lasted all of nine seconds.
The combination of the weak plot, weak lines and weak acting results in Fifty Shades Freed’s sole strength being that this absurd saga is finally finished.
Film reviewed at Cineworld, Edinburgh.
Image: Universal Pictures