Over at last!
No series’ climax could be more awaited by fans and haters alike. For the former, this cinematic wish fulfillment apparently hits the spot well enough to generate spontaneous applause at its conclusion and expected coda, while the latter will be glad to be rid of Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his sub-love, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).
With a more appealing lead duo, the Fifty Shades franchise may have been more seductive than reductive. Neither Dornan nor Johnson have the magnetism or the acting presence to convincingly sell this couple’s S&M brand of love. Dornan continues to confuse Christian’s cold calculation with serial killer psychopathy; one keeps waiting for Christian to unleash his inner Patrick Bateman. Again, Johnson fails to provide convincing evidence as to why Ana cracks Christian’s shell. The core failure of the two leads has haunted all three movies. Three chances in the same roles, and both still flounder like first-timers.
Fifty Shades Freed can boast about having the trilogy’s strongest sense of humor, though one wonders whether some of the audience titters are sponsored by discomfort rather than intentional comedy. This 105-minute car commercial also ramps up the sexual explicitness, which has always seemed somewhat tame for a franchise built on provocation.