DIRECTOR: James Foley

CAST: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Max Martini, Brant Daugherty, Arielle Kebbel, Fay Masterson, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden, Tyler Hoelchlin, Jennifer Ehle, Hiro Kanagawa

RUNNING TIME: 105 mins

CERTIFICATE: 18

BASICALLY…: Anastasia Steele (Johnson) and Christian Grey (Dornan) tie the knot and settle into a life of love together, but their problems are not over just yet…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

After a day that continued to surprise me at every turn, and not the good kind of surprise either, it was finally time to witness the film that I had naively assumed to be the very worst I would see that day. As it turned out, Fifty Shades Freed ended up being the SECOND-BEST movie I had sat through on Friday 9th February 2018 – let me repeat, the SECOND-BEST out of all four films I sat through that day.

Now, that’s not at all to say that I thought this movie is any good, because of course it isn’t; it’s Fifty Shades Freed, for shit’s sake. But trust me, when you’ve been in the wars as much as I had earlier on in the day, with having to sit through both Status Update and The 15:17 to Paris, I was genuinely glad to be watching something that I knew was going to be bad, and deliver exactly what I was expecting without it being any better or worse than I had imagined. Out of all the bad movies I saw that day, Fifty Shades Freed was by far the easiest to sit through, which really makes you think how awful the other films must have been if this one was the least intolerable.

But again, make no mistake: this is still a pretty bad movie, for all the reasons I’m about to get into.

Following on from the previous film, this one begins right off the bat as Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and billionaire sadist and abusive psycho… er, I mean charming and handsome Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) finally tie the knot – which is a pun that the marketing really should have thought up whilst promoting this movie; far better than “Don’t Miss The Climax” – and jet off to Europe on their extravagant and endlessly glamorous honeymoon. But before they can settle down together in their financially-secure future together, there’s one pesky problem standing in the way of their “happiness” (and that’s in quotes because really, with the kind of relationship that these two characters have, there’s no way both of them can be truly happy), and that’s Eric Johnson as Anastasia’s seething, vengeful ex-boss Jack Hyde – which is a name so painfully on-the-nose it makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry every time I think of how EL James thought it was a clever name to use – who’s making life mildly inconvenient for the happy couple by setting fire to Grey’s company building, breaking into their apartment, and later resorting to kidnapping of a close family friend.

It’s exactly what you’d expect from one of these movies, which is a lot of plot that more often than not goes nowhere with a few softcore sex scenes thrown into the mix to keep the audience’s interest. It’s pure trash, and it somehow seems to be under the impression that it’s a lot grander and artsier than it really is, although I will say that out of all three of these movies this one is probably the closest to being a genuinely so-bad-it’s-enjoyable experience. Like the others, you’re in awe of how bad the dialogue is, how little chemistry there is between Johnson and Dornan – who both clearly resent this material as well as each other, and every scene where they’re acting happy around one another you’re imagining all of that turning to shit as soon as the director yell “cut!” which makes it a little funny in your head – and how unsexy and embarrassingly safe the love scenes are filmed and performed. Fifty Shades Freed, however, does one thing that the other movies didn’t, and that’s actually have stuff happening to form some semblance of a plot, no matter how terrible and contrived it may be, and again it’s somewhat amusing to watch them try and fail to mine actual drama from a story that makes very little sense and serves as nothing but filler until we get to the next sex scene. Everything it tries throwing at you from an impromptu car chase sequence with laughably bad green-screen effects to the kidnapping plot that serves as the climax are handled with about as much care and thought as a man on a pogo stick delivering priceless china, partly because the writing and direction is terrible and also due to how these actors are so obviously done with this series and just don’t seem to care anymore about giving it some levity because they know they’ll be free as soon as production wraps.

It was indeed as bad as I had imagined it to be, but it did give me a glimpse of what could have been one of those so-bad-it’s-good series of films with how ridiculous and nonsensical they could get. Instead, the Fifty Shades trilogy is objectively one of the worst in recent memory, specifically down to how each one of them was consistently as bad as one another without much legitimate entertainment between any of them, aside from the third and mercifully final one which again offered a vision of what could have been if they went all-out in its ridiculousness from the very beginning. Just like the books they were based on, this has mere been a series of throwaway erotica, with a horrendous romantic storyline between two characters who in the real world would never end up together, some of the most hilariously awful writing that puts even the Twilight series to shame, and an extremely vanilla taste for kinky sex (in fact, in this film the sex is so vanilla that they literally start licking vanilla ice cream off each another in one scene) that desperately makes you wish you were just on Pornhub instead. Either way, like the rest of the world I am now free from my duties of reviewing these films and hope to never have to see another one of these on the big screen ever again.

And yet, as bad as Fifty Shades Freed was, it was still the SECOND-BEST film I saw in the space of a day. Truly, it’s been a strange Friday for me…

SO, TO SUM UP…

Fifty Shades Freed mercifully ends the series on an expectedly trashy note, but not before offering more of the same bad dialogue, awful acting and vanilla sex scenes we’ve come to expect, although this one at least offers a glimpse of what could have been a so-bad-it’s-enjoyable trilogy of films with its increasingly nonsensical and ridiculous attempt at a plot.

Thank you for joining me on my extended recollection of the strangest quadruple-bills I’ve ever experienced at the movies. Hopefully it will not be too soon before the next batch of mostly bad movies I have to see in a row – and if there is one, pray for me…