“Fifty Shades Freed”

Susan Granger’s review of “Fifty Shades Freed” (Universal Pictures)

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The final episode of this inexplicably successful, soft-core porn franchise opens with billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) dazzling his bride, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson),with an ostentatious display of his staggering wealth: his jet, his yacht, his chef, etc.

“This is yours?” she gasps. “No, ours,” he smoothly replies.

Yet their gilded honeymoon in Paris and the Cote d’Azur is marred by a relic that Anastasia brings to their union – namely, her desire to continue working in book publishing.

“You can’t keep me in a cage,” she tells her domineering husband.

Integral to that is the threat posed by Ana’s former boss, smarmy Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), who lost his job and is out for revenge – along with Ana’s ire at Christian’s architect (Arielle Kebbel) – initiating fist fights, car chases and kidnapping.

Plus, Ana’s desire to get pregnant clashes with Christian’s selfish wish to keep her affectionate attention totally for himself. Just think of the dilemma of trying to keep a curious toddler away from the ‘forbidden’ Red Room with its handcuffs, whips, chains, butt plugs and nipple clamps!

While the predictable plot plods on, cue a strange nocturnal interlude when Ana and Christian, sleepless in Seattle, meander into the kitchen and devour each other, along with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Based on the pulpy, S&M novels by British author E.L .James (a.k.a. Erika Mitchell), this installment is again adapted by her husband Niall Leonard and directed by James Foley, who propels the protagonists through glossy musical montages to an improbable happily-ever-after.

Fortunately, there are no plans to film James’ fourth novel which tells the same flimsy fairy tale from Christian Grey’s perspective.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Fifty Shades Freed” is a tiresome 2, particularly ill-timed with the focus on female empowerment in #MeToo and #Time’sUp.

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