Written by: Niall Leonard
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes
Dating a toxic person magically will not be fixed with further commitment such as marriage, which becomes evident in the conclusion of this dreadful trilogy. Despite its attempts to continually make its lead male someone palatable, Fifty Shades Freed indicates that a level of selfishness cannot be quelled until the absolute extremes of life strikes and somehow the film laughably wants the audience to sympathize with it.
Now living as a married couple, Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) have their honeymoon interrupted by a security breach at the latter’s company. They learn Anastasia’s former boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) is responsible, which adds stress to the already tumultuous relationship following Anastasia discovering her pregnancy.
It truly speaks to the lack of quality of a trilogy when a film as bad as this one can be considered the best of them all. While it does not have the production slickness of the first one, this film has finally reached the point where Anastasia feels equal to Christian in her demands for sex. It has allowed Dakota Johnson to do something somewhat interesting with the character, which once again, does not say much considering this entire trilogy as a whole. For the first time, it did not look as if Anastasia just went with Christian’s every whim and desire. However, if you thought he would get any better in how controlling and manipulative he can be to his wife, you would be wrong.
A major plot point of the story surrounds Anastasia announcing her pregnancy, typically a moment of elation for a married couple but Christian reacts in an unsurprisingly toxic way. Instead of sharing in the happiness of his wife, he essentially throws a tantrum about how this child will ruin how he envisioned the next few years of their lives. I guess he wants to avoid the obligation of not being rough with his wife when they have sex. With the arc of this entire story for Christan runs from him not wanting the baby to accepting the baby into his life, you just know we may not be working with strong storytelling. This issue has plagued the entire series, but the added intrigue of this film comes from Jack Hyde going from disgraced former editor to straight-up criminal mastermind in his pursuits to get revenge on the Greys.
Several moments show “thrilling” sequences like one of them escaping a pursuer following them through the streets. The expectations are at the Earth’s core at this point but sometimes you just have to enjoy the small things in an otherwise terrible feature film. Everything with Jack Hyde reaches a level of absurdity that makes you realize this entire trilogy has essentially been an X-rated soap opera that takes itself far too seriously for its own good. It becomes too bogged down in trying to justify Christian as someone any individual would willingly want to be with even with the man displaying time after time that he cares for his own desires and will control everyone else in order to have things for himself. We are three movies into this character and still, he manages to not learn anything substantive in that time.
Probably the only draw this franchise has left comes in the form of lifestyle porn as the film’s budget gets utilized to showcase just how lavish a lifestyle Anastasia now has due to her marriage with Christian. Take away his manipulative and controlling behavior and he’s essentially perfect. From the vacations in Aspen to the luscious honeymoon, Fifty Shades Freed does not want you to forget Anastasia has married a billionaire and will enjoy reaping the rewards of it. This facet continues with the idea of wish fulfillment laid out in the first film and how it all becomes a fantasy for the lead protagonist except for the part where the guy is a terrible human being seemingly only redeemed because he looks like Jamie Dornan and has a large bank account.
Mercifully the shortest of the trilogy and thus bringing us towards the end of a triad of films no one expected much from, based solely on the subject material, but managed to underdeliver anyway. This one remains the best because of how it adds some sort of stakes to the precarious situations these characters find themselves in and Anastasia feeling more confident in her work and sex life. Besides these two nuggets, Fifty Shades Freed falls into the same cycle of watching Christian Grey being an abusive individual and then him having sex with Anastasia. Dakota Johnson has now been freed from these ridiculous films, which truly gets at what this title indicates I’m sure.