A franchise can’t run out of steam if it never gathered any to begin with. That is the legacy of the Fifty Shades films and it climaxes limply with Fifty Shades Freed. The third and final (!) entry in the romantic saga of Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele-Grey (Dakota Johnson), we open with the lovebirds tying the knot. And by tying the knot, I mean they’re getting married and not just tying some knot as part of their wild sex escapades. We’ve seen that before and it’s a major reason why the pictures (based on the E.L. James bestsellers) have their legions of fans.
Their wedded bliss is relatively short-lived, though describing anything as short-lived is generous in this sluggishly paced series. For one thing, Ana’s stalker Jack (Eric Johnson) is causing mischief once again. There’s also feelings of jealousy happening with Christian’s former flame (Kim Basinger). That subplot actually gets less screen time than the relationship woes of Ana’s best bud (Eloise Mumford) and Christian’s brother (Luke Grimes). What do these storylines have in common? None of them are interesting. For a trilogy wanting to burst with lustful excitement, Freed and its predecessors have been so very listless.
I was never familiar with the source material from which these movies were spawned. Upon viewing Fifty Shades of Grey for the first time, I was more than willing to keep an open mind and try to understand how the novels become phenomenons. Three tales later, I just don’t get it and that certainly applies to its cinematic renderings. The performances of Johnson and Dornan still come across as flat. My previous descriptions of the “hot scenes” being no more gripping than late night Cinemax still stands (the writing is no better either).
Thankfully I can now officially close that once open mind when it comes to Christian and Anastasia. I am freed.
* (out of four)