This post contains SPOILERS for “Fifty Shades Freed”. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the books, probably should turn back now if you want to be surprised!
I’ll start off with, I haven’t read the books. This series is one of the few movies based on books that I haven’t read books. I have however read the Twilight series which this was originally fanfic of, so I had a general idea of what might happen in the movies plot-wise.
I’ve been single a while. I realized last night that I’ve had exactly one Valentine’s date in my “adult life,” so for the past few years my Bestie and I have been each other’s Valentine’s day date. She doesn’t call me “the best boyfriend ever” for no reason! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super interested in the movies or books to begin with, but Bestie really wanted to go so, I went.
The previous two movies (“Fifty Shades of Grey” & “Fifty Shades Darker” respectively) follow Ana Steele and Christian Grey as they go from a toxic Sub/Dom relationship to a somewhat less toxic romance. During that process Ana gets her boss fired after he attempts to assault her. The first two movies suffered from lackluster acting and stiff performances (and not in the good way). Yup, made a sex joke there.
While other reviews have, of course, slammed the movie, of the three I thought this was the best production. It had a pretty low bar to begin with, but overall the actors finally seemed to have some personality, and the supporting cast was probably the best part of the movie.
“Fifty Shades Freed” starts with Ana and Christian’s wedding, followed by their honeymoon. While on their honeymoon, Jack (Ana’s former boss & assaulter) plants a bomb in the server room of Christian’s corporation and steals a bunch of files. This causes them to go back home to Seattle. Christian works at his corporation and investigates Jack, and Ana goes back to work as an Editor at a publishing company that Christian owns. Ana’s coworker, Liz, is clearly jealous of everything Ana has gotten and makes barely veiled comments about it throughout the movie. Christian then buys them a house that’s run down and Ana faces off against the hot architect Gia, who’s hired to fix up the house (Bestie would like it known that Arielle Caroline Kebbel is definitely the hottest person in this movie, even without whips and handcuffs to help her out).
On their way home from the new house, they are followed by an unknown person and they barely get away, despite their car being far superior. Ana is suddenly a driver worthy of Bond chases and the Indy 500. Many hidden talents, this lady. They investigate and discover it’s an unknown woman. Christian then leaves for New York, and Ana defies his wishes and goes out with her best friend, Kate, for drinks. When Ana gets home, despite having personal security (because, of course), Jack comes out of the shadows and tries to kidnap her but Ana’s security takes him out and he’s arrested. Cue Bestie and I having a mild freak out in the theater over the badass Woman of Color security guard being the one to take out the bad guy, when her white man child partner freezes up. Christian returns and takes Ana into the Red Room, and uses it – and their sex life – to take revenge on her for defying him. Ana shuts him down quick; she uses their safe word for probably the first time in the series and gives him a meta dissertation on how BDSM is for their pleasure, not their temper tantrums and/or punishment. Despite Christian claiming he understands and apologizing, his causes a rift in their relationship.
Ana finds out that Jack is claiming she made up his original assault, he claims they were consensual lovers and makes a bid for bail, even when the detective investigating the case (in a star turn by Hiro Kanagawa, who stole every scene he was in) admits he feels Jack is a really fantastic bullshit artist but a true piece of shit abuser. He makes bail anyway (because, of course). Ana then goes to the doctor for a check up and finds out she’s pregnant (because there is not enough weight already on this young woman’s shoulders). Previously, she and Christian had discussed children and both had agreed that eventually they’d have them, but now wasn’t a good time.
When she tells Christian, he flips out and walks out. He comes back hours later trashed and Ana puts him to bed only to see Elena (his former mistress, a woman twice his age who began sexually abusing him and “teaching him BDSM” when he was young teenager) text him about what a great night they had. Ana goes and sleeps in the Red Room, locking herself in, and in the morning Christian freaks out because he can’t find Ana anywhere. She shows herself just as Christian is getting ready to have a search party go out to look for her. They fight again about his original reaction to her pregnancy and that he went to see Elena at all. He says nothing happened but Ana leaves anyway. Christian has to go out of town again for work, and after he leaves, Ana gets a call from Jack on Christian’s sister’s cellphone where he demands five million dollars cash or he’ll kill Mia (the woefully underutilized Rita Ora, who still looks fabulous, anyway). Jack warns her not to contact anyone – especially her husband – and to bring him the money.
She slips her security (easily; thanks to manchild being not quite the sharpest tack in the bunch, which is demonstrated more than once throughout the film – though he’s very handsome and one of the more animated cast members, so we’ll let it slide) and goes to the bank. The bank manager, in a sign of competency not yet seen in this series, calls Christian about the amount of money she’s trying to take out of their joint account. He tells them to give her anything she asks because he’s convinced she’s leaving him and this is yet another form of his half-hearted self-loathing masochism. He finds out immediately after that his sister has gone missing and Jack has made bail, which makes him rightly figure out what Ana is doing to save his sister. Ana manages to hide her phone in the money and Christian is able to track it (this scene gives us a moment of levity and brilliance that I’d like to actually thank Director James Foley and John Emmet Tracy – the actor responsible for giving us the Bank Manager – for). After a fight, Ana shoots Jack and saves the day, and her sister-in-law.
While a fairly simplified plot summary, there were actually many threads coming together in slightly disjointed (not purposefully, I would assume) way to make it to the climax. And speaking of a climax – after every major plot point the film cuts to Ana and Christian having sex, including after the car chase where they have a quickie in the parking lot they are hiding in.
While watching the movie and after thinking about it, I had many questions and concerns.
I’m wondering if the filmmakers know how women orgasm… Because every time there is a sex scene, Ana is acting like she is starting to orgasm before Christian has barely touched her. Either she’s the most sensitive woman ever, or the filmmakers have had a lot of women faking it for them. The moaning, the breathlessness, the writhing, all comes before either have had a chance to properly be aroused, let along gotten any of their clothing off or even properly kissed.
Another thing I wondered about was how Jack got into Ana and Christian’s apartment, when they have security and a housekeeper/maid who pretty much live in the apartment with them. As far as I know the only way in is the elevator which makes noise when it arrives. In previous scenes you do see him with some fancy tech for breaking in, so some of it can be explained away, but also how did he get that tech? He’s a book editor.
In the end what made the movie more successful than the previous two was the supporting cast and the loosening up of the two main actors. Dakota Johnson (Ana) finally had a backbone and wasn’t just another delicate flower that couldn’t stand up for herself and Jamie Dornan (Christian) finally showed a side to his personality other than “brooding billionaire.” I had multiple laugh-out-loud moments when Christian had authentic reactions to Ana.
My favorite performances were probably the Bodyguards (Brant Daugherty as manchild and Kirsten Alter as the badass woman who saves his pretty ass more than once), Detective Clark (Hiro Kanagawa), and the Bank Manager (John Emmet Tracy). Ana’s two bodyguards, Sawyer and Prescott, were the highlight of the movie. Sawyer had the most screen time so you got to see his personality the most, but Prescott was the baddest of the two when she came out of the shadows to kick Jack’s ass when he broke into the apartment. It wasn’t the white male who saved Ana but the Woman of Color. I had hoped she would have more screen time, especially from that scene on.
The Bank Manager was All Of Us when called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice: to give up your cellphone for a high paying client. Bestie and I muttered “I feel you, man,” more than once watching his face fall as he realized he had to hand over his iPhone without a moment’s notice. I know I would have been much more reluctant and might have made an underling give up their phone before I parted with mine.
And lastly, Detective Clark, who knew he had to play by the book, but also was willing to admit that Jack was a lying piece of shit. Ana knew that Detective Clark was on her side and would help her as much as possible, even if he had to be limited to the evidence at hand. When survivors of assault go to the police, they are so often met with disbelief and derision – Detective Clark was an example of how compassion and honor can still exist when dealing with victims of violent crime – even if in a fictional form.
Finally, if you already saw the first two, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with this one. If you’ve read the books, you’ll probably be on-board to see it. Otherwise, you could skip the movie unless you have a Best Friend like I do, who insists you see it with them on Valentine’s Day.