If you would like to read my review of Fifty Shades Freed, click here. This was the second film of a now three film franchise based on the erotic novel series. While the film series is bad in just about every way, at least this film was trashy fun and a slight improvement over the original. This series was never for people like me to begin with but I can understand why some may like it. It’s a fantasy but some of us live in the real world. (original review)
Synopsis: When a wounded Christian Grey tries to entice a cautious Ana Steele back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle the couple, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together. (Universal Pictures)
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, and Eric Johnson.
Writer: Niall Leonard
Director: James Foley
Rating: 18A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 118mins
Who doesn’t like a good trainwreck every once in awhile? At least the first film was, based on E.L. James’ errotic romance franchise. It was easy to see why a film would be made from the popular series but what was intended to be a serious, romance film, became an unintentional comedy thanks to its terrible dialogue, mediocre acting, and aimless direction. Perhaps with a new director and writer that this film would have a different fate. It is better than the first film but that is not saying much as some of its previous problems remain.
Regardless of whatever problems this film may have, fans of the book franchise will still see it. For those who have read the books, it almost didn’t matter as the plot was both highly predictable and unsurprising. The first film ended with Anastasia Steele (Johnson) and Christian Grey (Dornan) breaking up over Grey’s abusive nature. Of course they wouldn’t stay apart for long as Christian couldn’t handle being apart from Ana so he wanted her back. He wanted her so badly that he was willing to give up his old life for her but that was easier said than done. He was trying to fight his old urges for her but it wasn’t necessarily easy for her to believe that he would do that for her.
Continuing with previous film, despite her reservations, she was still infatuated by him so they still ended up together anyway which really spoke to her character. Over time, Ana began to learn about Christian’s past but as she learned about his past, it still found a way to strike back and threaten their relationship but not really. Ana had a boss named Jack (Eric Johnson) who obviously had a crush on her but he didn’t matter. The main problem of the film was that the plot went in many directions while still going nowhere. This was due to subplots and characters being underdeveloped, making it all feel like a vague mess. It just seemed like they added these subplots to stretch the story out longer than it needed to be.
The most disappointing subplot had to be the introduction of Christian’s Miss Robinson, so to speak, in a woman named Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger). She was his first and taught him to be the person he was. She did some bad things to him in making him who he was which would give us reason to hate her but she was barely in the film. This unevenness meant that the beginning and the end of the story was okay but the middle was lacking as a result. There was no suspense or excitement whatsoever which didn’t help either.
One of the biggest problems with the first film was the writing with bad writing and bad dialog sinking most of the scenes and creating a sense of awkwardness amongst the characters. This film was better in that regard but it still had its awkward moments from bad writing and dialog which did not sink the film as much as the first one. The film was also very melodramatic at times, exploring Christian’s past. It wouldn’t be a Fifty Shades film without graphic sex scenes and this one took those to the next level but we knew this coming in.
The acting between Johnson and Dornan was pretty bad in the first film due to the writing and their lack of chemistry. Maybe because this was their second film together, their chemistry improved and so did their performances but they still weren’t the greatest. As with the first film, Johnson was the better of the two with Dornan still a little stale, lacking any nuance with his character. Basinger was worth mentioning as Lincoln as she was fun to hate but we just didn’t get enough of her.
Overall, this film was an improvement over the previous film but still suffers from an uneven, underdeveloped story, bad writing, and okay performances. If you are a fan, you’ll probably see this anyway.