Mr Grey lets Mrs Grey drive a nice car, have some borderline consensual sex and takes her shopping.
How does the final instalment of the modern day S&M princess fairy tale begin? With a wedding of course. Yes, multimillionaire Dom Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) finally put a ring on it. And not just on Anastasia Grey’s (Dakota Johnson) finger but round her ankles, wrists and personal autonomy too.
For the uninitiated (congratulations), Mr Grey is a Seattle born, ex-orphan multimillionaire, with a penchant for naughty sex who managed to lead Mrs Grey down the path from quiet, virginal journalism graduate, to Sub in three books (E L James). The couple have so far survived non disclosure agreements and helicopter crashes, but are now confronted by (spoiler alert) a vengeful ex-boss and pregnancy announcement.
This time, director James Foley tells us, Mrs Grey is in charge as the film drags us through a porridge-like narrative punctuated by Anastasia Grey’s acts of defiance. Mrs Grey does it all: goes topless, drives a car and goes out for a drink with a friend.
But what happens to naughty wives in 2018? They get punished. And so as in films one and two the audience is treated to disappointingly few scenes of slightly pedestrian kinky sex framed by some frankly gorgeous silk lingerie. Not even the script- “I should misbehave more often”- manages to hot things up. But to be fair, James didn’t give script writer Niall Leonard much to work with in the first place.
These cringe worthy moments pale in comparison to how problematic the film is for a supposedly #woke generation. Most concerning of all is Christian’s reaction to Ana’s illicit drink with her best friend which results in what can only be described as sexual abuse in the red room: “You promise something and then do the complete opposite. So now you know how I feel,” he growls. This abusive relationship is justified through a #capitalistluxe filter- a little test for the teenage audience- will they spot the transgressions beyond the Audi product placement?
Interwoven with private jets, chauffeurs and shopping is the action plotline (one for the lads) when Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Ana’s rapist former boss seeks revenge for the ruin of his career in “Fifty Shades Darker”. It’s incredible that despite many specialist security staff Hyde successfully breaks into Mr Grey’s office and home, threatening Mrs Grey with a knife. But maybe you can’t get the staff these days.
In Hyde’s defence it’s laughable how Anastasia Grey has gone from journalism grad to publishing executive in three years thanks to her relationship with the “boss’s boss’s boss”. Most of the audience’s careers will begin with months if not years of unpaid internships and a starting salary of 18K. But kidnapping Christian’s sister Mia, (oh yes gurrrll Rita Ora is back!) is perhaps an overreaction.
The kidnapping however does give Christian the opportunity to apologise to Ana for a disturbing reaction to her pregnancy announcement- “You’ll choose him over me!”- after a showdown with Hyde in an industrial estate leaves her hospitalised (private glass room, $500 worth of flowers).
But who can blame Grey? Perhaps his reaction was in fact a rare moment of maturity. He finally realised that he and his wife are two children in an abusive, opulent playground who aren’t ready for another.
Fifty Shades Freed is out now.
Rating: 2 stars
Final verdict: A #capitalistluxe 101 of abusive relationships.