Movie Review: ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ Offers an Unsexy Paean to Wealthy Living
I tried to give the Fifty Shades of Grey movies the benefit of the doubt. Watching the first film, I told myself it was just a wish-fulfillment fantasy, and fantasies are OK. I tried to be grateful that E.L. James’ best sellers about a bondage-loving billionaire and his demure bride-to-be make for racier, more eventful romances than Nicholas Sparks’ output ever could.
But enough with benefit-of-the-doubt giving. It took only a few minutes of Fifty Shades Freed — directed, like the second installment, by the once-reputable James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross) — to make me long for freedom from this particular cinematic dungeon.
Those first few minutes are all about the wedding and honeymoon of Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), and they feel like a video ad for a swanky nuptial package that won’t stop playing. Everything is catalog-bland and generically luxurious, until Ana attempts to go topless on the French Riviera and Christian blows his top, reminding us that he is a possessive, paranoid, controlling asshole.
Or an adorable controlling asshole, as your preference may be. The pattern continues as our lovebirds return to Seattle. Having purchased the publishing company where Ana works, Christian proceeds to monitor every aspect of her life, bombarding her with worried texts when she dares deviate from her schedule to have drinks with a friend.
Ah, but he’s totally justified in this behavior! Because Ana’s lecherous former boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), has taken to stalking the couple. His reasons for doing so are absurdly contrived; suffice it to say that, in this cinematic universe, everyone who isn’t a fervent cheerleader for the Ana-Christian relationship is a jealous wretch hell-bent on sabotaging it. No supporting character has much interior life or interest in anything besides the central couple.