Fifty Shades Freed
Directed by James Foley
Let's get this out of the way first - Fifty Shades Freed is nowhere near as entertaining as its predecessor. Where Darker seemed to revel in its campiness and ridiculousness, seemed to be a hoot of a set with nearly everyone but Jamie Dornan in on the joke, Freed is just dull. Nothing really happens, there is never any tension, the entire thing seems to be written by someone with just a glancing familiarity with how a story is told. Fifty Shades Don't You Just Mean Black? had the same issues - nothing really happened, no tension, no real reason to exist - but with the exception of Jamie Dornan no-one and nothing else about that movie took itself seriously. Where Fifty Shades It's Black, Right? unleashed all of the actors and production designers and allowed Marica Gay Harden and Kim Basinger and Rita Oro and Dakota Johnson to chew up all of the scenery, Fifty Shades Someone Explain This Title to Me returns to all of the bad habits of the first movie, flat and lifeless performances, and a misunderstanding of both how plot works and how BDSM works.
I gotta be honest here. After all of the insanity of the second movie I had some hopes for an entertaining if bewildering finish to this franchise. Instead, this thing is just kind of m'eh. It just kind of sputters to an end, leaving all kinds of plot threads lying on the bed sheets. It's anti-climatic, it's limp. It just barely reaches the finish line, leaving everyone involved underwhelmed and unsatisfied. Sorry. It's almost as if there wasn't enough story to fill three movies. There's a reason why 9 1/2 Weeks is remembered and Another 9 1/2 Weeks isn't.
Fifty Shades I Hope Jamie Dornan Likes His Pool is filled with some of the worst dialogue found outside of 90s pornography and read with less enthusiasm. The movie begins with possibly the worst wedding vows ever put to film and kind of spirals out of control from there. There are eye-rolling moments piled on top of eye-rolling moments, nonsensical events piled on top of nonsensical events. There is a scene in this movie, and I swear on a stack of bibles this happened, there is a scene in this movie… The newly married piano playing, helicopter flying billionaire gets up in the middle of the night and makes his way to the kitchen. He opens the fridge door and drops something. From the darkness his wife says something, like "hey". He jumps and says, "oh, I was looking for you". Someone in the theatre yells out "In the fridge?!?!?"
Eric Johnson is the only actor in this entire film that seems to be having any kind of fun, playing bad guy Jack Hyde as something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. But, overall, everyone else seems to be waiting for the cheques to clear. Even Marica Gay Harden, so much fun in the second movie, returns to the barely conscious performance she gave in the first film.
At its worst, Fifty Shades Freed is something that would have been shown on Cinemax on After Dark in the 90s, something found on the direct-to-video shelves beside movies starring Shannon Tweed or Jacqueline Lovell.
At its best, Fifty Shades Freed is an hour and forty-five minute Audi commercial with boobs and bums.
What else can I say about Fifty Shades Free The Nipple? James Foley shows some creativity in a scene where Dakota Johnson's Ana is remembering some sex while drinking coffee in her office, cutting repeatedly between the heat of the sex and the banality of the office until she's interrupted. There is also a scene where the newly married couple are arguing, but during it all Dakota Johnson is getting dressed. She starts out naked and ends the scene completely dressed and walking away from the fight a winner. For the first time in this franchise there are moments when the two leads don't seem to completely despise each other, there are fewer obvious body doubles used in this move. Jamie Dornan can smile and emote.
And Jamie Dornan can sing. That is the biggest surprise. Jamie Dornan can sing. He sings with a real passion, but understated. That minute and a half almost made the entire film worth it. Is it weird that my favourite moment in a franchise built around Don Johnson's daughter's breasts is Jamie Dornan singing? Yeah, I guess so. But in a franchise where I sit horrified whenever anyone prepares food on a counter space or table top that has been used for sexy times, I'll take what I can.