Nutshell: Looks Dakota Johnson is growing into her acting chops. Unfortunately, Freed doesn’t give her much to work with. A messy plot with a drummed-up antagonist that takes away from the light-hearted chemistry between the two leads. Grade: D+
“It’s boobs in boobland!”
Story: Well, Christian and Anastasia have tied the knot. Mazel! But looks like Anna’s former boss – the pervy one that Christian fired – is back for what else? Payback. *da-DUM*
Genre I’d put it in: Lackluster Trilogy Enders
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Part three of the Fifty Shades trilogy, based on the unreasonably popular books by EL James.
Gotta say: I have to admit that I actually enjoyed Fifty Shades Darker. It had more than just C&A panting after each other, and let the leads develop a real bond between their characters. It ain’t no Romeo and Juliet, but for a look at vanilla bondage, it was a fun watch. Unfortunately, Freed drops the ball, landing squarely in the bland, empty territory that I hoped had been left back in the first entry in this trilogy.
There’s a few things to like in Freed. Like the way it often pokes fun at itself, and the intentional comedy. That’s right; here in Freed, there are jokes that aren’t at the movie’s expense. (Of course, as this is a Fifty Shades joint, prepare to chuckle at things the film probably wants you to think are tres sexxxy.) There are digs at how Anastasia keeps getting promoted at her job, even though she never seems to actually do any work. In fact, in this episode, she actually does work! And it looks like actual editor things!
I did dig the requisite honeymoon montage. Johnson and Jamie Dornan played cute as Anna and Christian do the usual couple things, albeit cranked to eleven with all that big Grey moolah. Still, running in the rain, riding a moped, and canoodling around Europe was adorable, and a sweet way to start the film. And hey, are they actually using a safe word? YES. Say hallelujah y’all! Perhaps that’s due to Anna’s backbone. Because with Freed, Anna’s backbone grows to not only respectable levels, but almost reaches badass bitch. There’s no explanation for it, except for perhaps the slight bit of gumption she showed in Darker. But now Anna stands up to Christian, and it’s a welcome sight to see.
What’s not so welcome is the plotting in Freed. Screenwriter Niall Leonard seems to have taken his outline cards, thrown them up in the air, and then let director James Foley film whatever mess of a structure landed. Subplots are tossed around, antagonists do their antagonizing here and there, and then boom – movie climax. The entire film is a mess, and considering the sweet chemistry the two leads have built up during this series, that’s a shame. I guess every film has to have an antagonist, but Anna’s former boss becoming a Bond-level villain comes out of nowhere. It would have been better to have had an “Anna’s kidnapped now that they’re married” plot, or something that put her pregnancy in danger. But yeah, boss angst. Sigh.
If you’re a completist like I am, go and look at all the pretty. They’ve really done the billionaire thing in this film, complete with large houses, spiffy cars, and lots of grand scenes of…grandness. Dig Anna’s blush rose honeymoon-getaway suit, and how she becomes Anastasia Grey: Stunt Driver. Enjoy the cute ice cream play, and the way the three main ladies (Johnson’s Anna, Eloise Mumford’s Kate, and Rita Ora’s Mia) are just so dang adorable together. #squadgoals
Just ignore everything else, and perhaps you won’t be quite as disappointed as I am.
#Protip: Wanna spice things up for real? Here’s a lovely article from Your Tango that shows you how to do S&M right. Happy Valentine’s Day!