Published Feb 08, 2018The Fifty Shades series was initially known for its risqué BDSM sex scenes, but three movies in, they've mostly stopped trying to shock us with bondage scenes. Sure, Fifty Shades Freed has significantly more nudity than your average Hollywood blockbuster, but it's mostly pretty vanilla stuff. (Literally — at one point they lick vanilla Ben & Jerry's off each other.)
Instead of pushing sexual boundaries, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) spend most of the movie — the third and worst instalment in the franchise — locked in a wildly unrealistic battle against Anastasia's former boss, the abusive Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson). Since the last time we saw Jack, he has somehow transformed from the fiction editor at a publishing house into a devious criminal nemesis, capable of pulling off a data heist against a major corporation and outwitting a billionaire's professional security detail.
Lucky for our newly married lovers, Anastasia also possesses implausible talents. At just 21, she's already a successful publishing editor, a talented cook and an accomplished hairdresser, and her apparent knack for sports car racing comes in handy during a highway chase scene. She spends practically every scene flaunting her gaudily huge wedding ring, and the constant displays of wealth (private planes! boats! mansions! secret holiday homes!) are more gratuitous than an episode of Entourage.
Mostly, this is all the same crap from the first two movies — pointless secondary characters, clumsy dialogue, ill-fitting song placements and a directionless plot that author E. L. James seems to have made up on the fly. But what truly makes Fifty Shades Freed so noxious is the dysfunctional relationship between its protagonists. At one point, Anastasia asks Christian, "You do want to have kids someday, right?" This is after their honeymoon, mind you, making it clear that they've gotten married without bothering to discuss life goals.
It's no big surprise that Christian proves to be a spectacularly shitty husband. He's kind of partner who barges into his wife's office in the middle of an important meeting to ask why she's still using her maiden name, who possessively attempts to control whom she sees and when, and who abandons her to go get drunk with a former lover during a pivotal moment in their lives. He suffers almost no consequences for his bad behaviour, and he and Anastasia don't deserve the (spoiler alert!) happy ending that they inevitably get.
The only redeemable thing about Fifty Shades Freed is that it's so bad it almost works as trash cinema. You might get some enjoyment from it if you're able to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Ever wondered what The Room or Birdemic would have looked like with a boardroom of producers and a $55 million budget? Here you go.