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‘Fifty Shades Freed’ is as stupid-sexy as ever

By Steve Persall, Times Movie Critic
Published: February 8, 2018 Updated: February 8, 2018 at 04:13 PM
Universal Pictures DAKOTA JOHNSON and JAMIE DORNAN return as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in "Fifty Shades Freed," the climactic chapter based on the worldwide bestselling "Fifty Shades" phenomenon.

Is it good for you? Do you see fireworks or a Freudian train entering a tunnel? Because Fifty Shades Freed is all up in your libido, finishing the job this softcore trilogy set out to do, stupid-sexier than ever.

After an ultra-kinky courtship, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are now married, opening up new avenues of dominance and submission to explore. Any bump in the road ó jealousy, work, a madman chasing them ó is easily solved with a thrust and a nuzzle.

Nudity isnít optional anymore. By now we can sketch Dakota Johnsonís and Jamie Dornanís bodies from memory. Itís a relief on one occasion when Christian begins removing Anaís dress and the movie cuts away to clothed folks. Not for long, of course.

Fifty Shades Freed is the inevitable result of an accidental franchise born in literature and raised by cashing in. There is nowhere logical for the story to go since it wasnít intended to run this long. Sex is everything in this movie because nothing emotional or thrilling registers beyond the moment.

Since these sexual encounters need some linking device, director James Foley keeps it simple. Ana and Christianís Parisian honeymoon is interrupted by news that his corporationís computers have been hacked (and burned for good measure). Itís the dirty work of Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), a generic villain with a grudge to be determined later. Now back to the bedroom, kitchen, wherever the urge hits.

Marriage has some interesting effects on Ana and Christian that screenwriter Niall Leonard, adapting wife E.L. Jamesí novel, doesnít give enough attention. Thereís a feminist glimmer to some of Anaís behavior putting Christian on his heels including her shutdown of an architect (Arielle Kebbel) eyeing her man.

Yet this assertive development is constantly contradicted by Anaís submission. Christianís protective nature ruffles her independence yet sheíll beg a bodyguard to not tell him she went for drinks with a girlfriend after work. He does, and itís time out time in the Red Room, where Christian keeps his home depot of sexual devices. Meanwhile, the libertine Christian turns a bit prudish, making Ana cover up on a topless Riviera beach. He gets jelly about a handsome novelist Ana meets and miffed when she keeps her maiden name email address. This occasional flipping of their sexual dynamic is amusing, if not clever.

More often laughs are unintentional, depending on what Ana and Christian are doing before sex. A high speed car chase pauses in a parking lot for a quickie. A nightmare rattles Ana but itís nothing a few ice cream games canít solve. These kids never stop. When Ana learns sheís pregnant, youíre tempted to yell "Itís about time!" at the screen. Fifty Shades Freed concludes with a montage of what may be every single time they kept their clothes on during the trilogy. Donít know about you, but Iím spent.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.