Director: James Foley
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Marcia Gay Harden
Written by: Niall Leonard and (based on the book) E.L. James
Running Time: 104 mins
Release date: 9th February 2018
Firstly, let’s have a moment to celebrate. This is the last of the series of Fifty Shades films! For that fact alone, I give it five stars. As for the latest instalment in the magnificent world of Christian Gray and Anastasia Steele? Well, this is just as bland, just as laughably bad and this time, even more bonkers than the previous films, which is saying something. And yet, in a strange way, I’m going to miss sitting in a cinema, the lone male in a room full of middle-aged women, watching the safest S&M movies around. Hang on, a second…I’m still delirious about this being the last film. I’m not going to miss anything about these trashy bores!
Anastasia and Christian are now married, yet with that comes a much more confident woman and the usual decisions the pair have to make, mainly about having a family. Yet something is not right. Christian has upped the security on his whole family and Anastasia has her own personal bodyguard. Her former boss, Jack Hyde, is back and Christian has fears that he and his new wife could be the target of a personal vendetta.
Continuing after Fifty Shades Darker, which tried to force a thriller element into the otherwise bonk-fest that the first film was, taking a young innocent woman into a world of sexual activities she has never experienced before, this one mostly drops the sex for the thriller, which, if the nudity was removed and you were left with the thriller part, would be the kind of tripe that turns up on Channel 5 in the afternoons. Instead, we get a film built around three ideas: sex, material belongings and a bizarre revenge story that, when you discover the reason behind the actions of a madman, you find yourself stifling the giggles.
Let’s talk about the sex. Tame is an understatement. Considering the audience for this movie and the others are mainly women, there’s very little for them to get excited about. In a time where explicit sex scenes are played out in great detail in most European films, for a series of movies were kinkiness and experimental sex is Christian Gray’s thing, this is unbelievably poor and boring. It’s about as exciting as a mouldy old cheese sandwich. What also is surprising is that Anastasia loves going topless while Christian obviously doesn’t like going bottomless! At least you are given warning signs when the sex scenes are coming (ho, ho) by the inclusion of dire pop songs that seem completely out of place.
Then there are the material items. Christian is a rich man, don’t you know. So we are reminded exactly how rich by being shown montage after montage of boats, planes, houses, cars etc that belong to Christian. Even Anastasia is still surprised by Christian’s materialistic wealth, even after three movies. When shown a private plane just after their wedding, she still has to ask: “Is this yours?”
Finally, there’s the thriller angle. A laugh-out-loud mess of a plot involving Jack Hyde seeking some form of revenge on the Grays, for ruining his life. He breaks into Christian’s office and tries to blow it up (in a scene we never see…thanks to budget restrictions, I guess). He follows them in the least exciting car chase ever and then tries to kidnap his family members. When you find out why even die-hard fans will probably say “REALLY?”
To be honest, we shouldn’t be that surprised by all of this because apart from some redeeming factors in the first film, thanks to Sam Taylor-Johnson trying to do something different with the dire story, these films come from a world where the books are so badly written and thanks to scriptwriter Niall Leonard, who just so happens to be E.L. James’s partner, the dialogue, the pacing, the whole feel of the film is one of either unintentional comedy or downright boredom. Even the performances from Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, bless them, are hindered by the awful dialogue they have to share with the world. Thankfully, the pair can move on to hopefully much better things.
Fifty Shades Freed is nothing more than a money-making machine that throws out logic, intelligence and any form of wit, to be replaced by numbskull dialogue, safe direction and not an ounce of erotism. Now that the series is over, what am I to watch to get my kicks? I know, the Confessions movies with Robin Askwith. They were far more erotic than these films.