With the everyday, relatable trials and tribulations of courtship such as romantic misunderstandings, contractual disputes over sexual small print and helicopter crashes behind them, Anna (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) settle contentedly into married life which, for them, means an immediate return to Christian Grey’s jealous, possessive and controlling behaviour hidden behind a glossy one-percenter lifestyle supplement. Throughout the film, the marriage weathers various challenges such as the couple’s complete and utter lack of chemistry, a worrying inability to communicate about anything other than sex (and even then, they’re not particularly good at it) and the absence of anything in common beyond their consensually abusive dysfunctionality and complete privileged self-absorption.
Nobody seems invested in this final chapter, from the cast through the director to the screenwriter Niall Leonard, husband of ‘author’ E L James, who transcribes his wife’s work with all the intricacy and disinterest of ticking off of a weekly shopping list. There’s no plot to speak of – even in the last half an hour or so when a risible attempt at underpinning the flaccid drama with a thriller brings so many plot holes one wonders if it was thematically modelled on some slapdash rope play – events just shamble along, abutting and bumping into each other with scarcely any rhyme or reason. Sub-plots are vague, ill-defined and unrewardingly pointless, either fizzling out into irrelevance or arbitrarily dropped.
The sex scenes, the movie’s sole remaining claim to purpose, are suitably frequent but unerringly brief, perfunctory and surprisingly repetitive suggesting that despite only being married for a matter of weeks, they’re already in a rut. Director James Foley either doesn’t know or doesn’t care where to point his camera, with a sneaky spot of dogging in Christian’s Audi R8 (the only member of the cast which gives a truly committed performance) featuring some of the most inept camerawork I have ever seen in a major motion picture. I didn’t know where to look, and not in a good way.
Despite its sniggering, nudge-nudge-wink-wink references to vibrators, restraints and butt plugs, “Fifty Shades Freed” ends up flogging nothing but a dead horse. The worst of a trilogy that has already set the bar so, so low, instead of the promised climax, the only relief this movie offers is the knowledge that we’ll never have to endure another one of these films again.