For a film entirely premised around sex, Fifty Shades Freed is decidedly unsexy. The final movie in the popular franchise begins with the wedding of Christian (Jamie Dornan) and Ana (Dakota Johnson) coming together as Mr and Mrs Grey. What follows is a melodramatic, well-worn depiction of a marriage ruled by jealousy and miscommunication. A convoluted kidnapping and unexpected pregnancy come out of nowhere in a bizarre, half-hearted effort towards narrative that would have been better spent lengthening the rushed, misguided sex scenes, aka the whole reason people are paying money to see this film.
Dakota Johnson admittedly brings a playfulness to Ana, a bratty disobedience that lightens the mood in a film which otherwise takes itself far too seriously. Jamie Dornan’s performance of a Man Who Has Suffered remains stilted in a way that feels, at best, disconcerting. In the film’s most unconvincing subplot, a weekend away with friends hardly shifts the couple’s behaviour.
While the previous Fifty Shades films featured sex that at least mildly intrigued, Freed’s most riveting BDSM playroom scene occurs when Ana takes a nap on the cherry-red leather couch. With a room full of sex toys the couple use two, one of which forces Ana’s safe word as she defends the boundary between foreplay and emotional manipulation. It astounds that even with a 55 million dollar budget, director James Foley still could not depict one hot sex scene.
As many critics have already noted, the world of Mr and Mrs Grey is null and void without their wealth. Lingering shots of the couple’s upmarket lifestyle — extravagant properties, slick cars, and private jets — induce greater desire than poorly scripted lust. Much like Mr and Mrs Grey’s supposedly transgressive sex, Fifty Shades Freed ends abruptly and without satisfaction. Every source of tension in the film, whether sexual or otherwise, is resolved too quickly or not at all. By the time the credits roll, Mr and Mrs Grey’s permissibly deviant relationship has reverted to an outdated moral code, tying up neither Ana or its excessive subplots.