James Foley’s conclusion of the Fifty Shades saga, Fifty Shades Freed, opens with a wedding. The bride, Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), is wearing white lace, the groom, Christian (Jamie Dornan), two days stubble. The ceremony is taking place in what looks like a very airy office lobby, to which a wall of roses has been added. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for this trilogy: two pretty people, somewhat out of sync, behaving in an utterly predictable manner, in a series of high-end staged spaces.
Because when it’s all said and done, this “shocking” and “naughty” light-bondage mommy porn has turned out to be the same old heteronormative, socially approved journey: Man and woman meet, get married and have a family. Appending spanking sessions, fancy boats and bizarre criminal subplots is just window-dressing.
But at this point, the only reason to tune in is to see what completely idiotic outside force now threatens our two lovebirds. After all, they still live in the same bank-lobby apartment and do the same squabble-then-make-up-sex thing. I guess, there’s some new slinky dresses and frilly underwear to slip out of, but one them is still wearing the same artfully torn jeans (looking at you, Christian!)
After a European honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs. Grey return to Seattle where they are at once on the receiving end of bizarre threats: car-stalked by a Dodge SUV; a rando message (“You owe me a life”); a physical assault. There is also a bomb (!), and later a kidnapping, a ransom demand and a slap so hard that it puts one character in a coma. And all this while the Greys have several security guards — though, if the repeated comments are to be taken seriously, one was only hired because he’s fine. (Fact check: He is.)
I sooooo wanted this film to be deliciously bad and not the perfunctory dull chipped-chopped tedium it was. I had so few laughs, though a good one was when Ana pulled a couple of “perfectly cooked” steaks out of the oven — mmm, baked steak. Or when she just discovered Christian had a plane. Or when Ana shows up at the bank to get $5,000,000 in cash and the manager says, “Do you have identification?”
Mostly, I felt committed to seeing this film, because I’d invested the time in the first two, but honestly, I think you could live the whole rest of your life without seeing part three and be perfectly fine. In the final scene, as Ana and Christian walk out of the frame and into their domestic bliss, remember: It is not they who are freed, but us.