Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

“I should misbehave more often.”

Most studies show that porn controls a significant percentage of all the internet’s bandwidth. There seems to be a site for every kink, every fetish, every niche idea you could think to dream up. So why has this series – which finally ends with the boring, dry-humping eroticism of Fifty Shades Freed – been such a tepid success when you can find the same stuff online for free? While audiences have significantly shunned the series with each new installment, the series’ biggest draw seemed to be its the vicarious voyeurism that moviegoers tap into in a little dark theater. It feels enticing because the material is meant to be titillating (especially in a crowd), when in actuality it’s the equivalent of a long-running day-time soap opera with a literal handful of exposed breasts and washboard abs and the occasional uttered safe word. The only accomplishment for Fifty Shades Freed is that it doesn’t throw away the key after locking us up in cushioned cuffs for three entire films.

Now married, Ana (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) remain in the honeymoon phase. She’s supposedly earned her spot as the head fiction editor at a publisher Christian conveniently owns, meanwhile he goes on and on about work even though we never actually see him working. Those are the minor problems in this fantasy world, a reality where jets and mansions and fast cars come without the cost of fuel or a mortgage or a loan. Desires don’t require action or effort. The only worries are propagated by their own distance from reality, their lack of communication and trust, and the clinging nature of their so-called love. Fifty Shades Freed, and the entire series for the matter, should leave you far more bothered than it does hot. Not even Robin Leach could sell these cheap champagne wishes and cut-rate caviar dreams without letting out a good laugh.

Fifty Shades of Grey might be the only serviceable film of the bunch, if only because it took the time to create visual metaphors out of inner sexual desires. Ana walking out into the rain after first meeting Christian, drenched by their lustful tension. Later on she puts a pencil with his name engraved on the side up to her lips as her vacant eyes wander, the image on-screen perfectly creating the carnal daydream playing out in her head. Then with Fifty Shades Darker, the series did what all inferior sequels do and showered in one plot line after another, sacrificing the secrecy of the couple’s behind-red-closed-doors BDSM for an expanded and inclusive orgy. Now, author of the books (which I can only imagine read like fan fiction) and screenwriter E.L. James gives this unbalanced threesome a dark night-cap to drown in all of its casual, over-the-counter brand of drama. Fifty Shades Freed could be a watchable dark comedy if it didn’t take itself so seriously.

Even with the return of Eric Johnson’s mercilessly horrible, deranged, and outright dumb Jack Hyde as the film’s stereotypical bad guy, the real monster in this movie is the third act. Jack is out to kill without motivation. Ana tests her hubby in a cheesy game of cat and mouse. Christian continues to behave like a carbon copy of playboy Dan Bilzerian with a dirty laundry list of Mommy issues. There’s absolutely no chemistry between the two leads, let alone any semblance of physical attraction, forcing this sad romp to fake its climax more than a late night Cinemax production. James Foley can’t – and seemingly doesn’t really care – to try to elevate this ground level material to the penthouse suite it’s convinced itself to be. As such, Fifty Shades Freed and the entire collection as a whole is just a 24/7 tease of adult themes undercut by the desperate horniness of hormonal teenagers. If you’re still hard after this one, you might want to ask for a refund, and I suggest that you call you doctor ASAP.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

Rating: 1 out of 5


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