‘Fifty Shades Freed’ mercifully ends tedious franchise

Updated February 9, 2018 - 12:01 pm

Somewhere in the middle of “Fifty Shades Freed,” a distraught Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) tells his new bride, the former Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), about the dream he just had. “You were dead. And you were lying on the concrete. And you were cold. And I couldn’t wake you.”

That’s pretty much how death works, sport.

Gosh, it’s a good thing you’re pretty.

I won’t go into much detail about the story, because “Fifty Shades Freed” — whatever that means — contains roughly the same amount of plot as a Bazooka Joe comic.

Basically, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Anastasia’s former boss, continues to stalk the happy couple. Their honeymoon montage is interrupted by a call from Christian’s company, letting them know that someone downloaded some of Christian’s personal files, then set fire to the server room. Despite the perpetrator’s face being obscured in a blurry security video, Anastasia immediately recognizes that it’s Jack.

After returning to Seattle, Anastasia tears herself away from some foreplay to track down a pair of scissors so she can cut Christian’s hair. (Sure, why not?) She returns to the sink visibly shaken.

“Why is there a gun in your desk?” she demands. Well, let’s see. In the past few days, you’ve gained a ’round-the-clock security detail, your husband told you Jack sabotaged his helicopter, causing it to crash, and you just survived a high-speed car chase — and then immediately had sex in the passenger’s seat. Why is there a gun? Oh, Ana. You’re supposed to be the brains in the relationship.

There are plenty of other head-scratchers — and by that I’m referring to things that are puzzling, not some obscure devices in Christian’s infamous Red Room.

“You do wanna have kids someday, right?” Anastasia asks Christian — after their honeymoon.

As they took turns spooning ice cream onto each other’s naughty places, going back several times to scoop out more, I wasn’t thinking about arousal. I was thinking about where that spoon had been and worrying about the poor sap who would eventually eat the rest of that ice cream.

There are two different scenes in which Christian can’t find Anastasia because she’s in another room. If that’s not a sign that you should start buying smaller homes, I don’t know what is.

And an hour into the movie, Christian is handed a dossier on good ol’ Jack. “This just came in,” Taylor (Max Martini) announces, before briefing Christian on the highlights: where Jack went to college, as well as his previous work history. So after weeks of harassment by a dangerous stalker, Christian’s head of security finally decided to take a gander at LinkedIn. Nice.

By now, director James Foley (“Glengarry Glen Ross”) and screenwriter Niall Leonard (“Fifty Shades” author E.L. James’ husband) have developed a bit of a pattern to the madness. Step one: Have a silly fight, storm off, play generic pop song, have sex. Step 2: Rinse — often while playing another generic pop song and having sex while rinsing. Step 3: Repeat ad nauseum.

After one of these kerfuffles, Anastasia walks in on Christian in the shower, runs her hand down his chest, down to his stomach, down to his … hand, which grabs hers and pulls it away. “I can’t,” Christian tells her.

Wait, what? Whaddya mean, you can’t? That’s literally the only reason you’re around.

Johnson continues to add sparks and a sense of unpredictability to the proceedings, while Dornan yet again portrays Christian as a frighteningly possessive man baby, as well as a bit of a dolt. Honestly, it’s more than a little surprising that he’s capable of tying his shoes, let alone tying up his wife.

For five minutes or so, “Fifty Shades Freed” adopts the beats of a thriller — minus any actual thrills.

I can’t imagine there are people out there who haven’t grown tired of watching those two boink. Yet boink they do, to the point of tedium.

Then again, if the “Fifty Shades” franchise is about anything — and I often wonder if it is — it’s excess. Christian has acquired an entire fleet of Audis, including an R8 V10 that earns a long glamour shot as though we’re watching a disturbingly graphic car commercial. Even the sets are designed to within an inch of their lives — every room looks as though it were staged by a moderately successful Realtor.

I’m not certain if “Fifty Shades Freed” is marginally better than its predecessors, or if I’ve just grown accustomed to the awfulness of the franchise.

I am sure of one thing, though: I’m finally, mercifully, freed of “Fifty Shades.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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