• by Wes Singleton

Fifty Shades Freed, D-

Rated R, 105 minutes

The real torture behind the "Fifty Shades" film series is actually having to sit through it. The final (thankfully) chapter in this awful, sexist S&M soap opera, "Fifty Shades Freed," is likely the worst of this trilogy, if that's possible, and making a strong case for abstaining from one of the worst films of the year.

Believing they've left behind the shadowy figures from the past, billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his new wife, Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), fully embrace their inextricable connection and shared life of luxury. Just as the Greys begin to step into their new roles, sinister events come to light and jeopardize their happy ending before it even begins.

The slick, vapid "Fifty Shades Freed" is a painful reminder that many movies are made for the masses and not for critics like me. Directed by James Foley ("Fifty Shades Darker") and written by Niall Leonard, based on EL James' garbage-inducing novel of the same name, what makes it worse is that the lead actors, the lovely Johnson and Dornan, have zero chemistry playing such dumb, unsympathetic characters who can't even argue believably. Dornan's Christian Grey in particular continues to come off as a sexist, controlling creep, while Anastasia seems to be lacking a few brain cells.

This time out, Anastasia's former boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), continues to stalk her while Anastasia and Christian may be starting a family, no surprise given they have sex at every turn. There's no story, no real acting and loads of steamy, well-choreographed sex, though considerably toned down from James' smutty novels; on that note, these films make money not for their acting or storytelling abilities, as silly as they are. Somehow, Hyde is able to penetrate (maybe that's a bad choice of words) a security system of a world-famous billionaire.

The only word I can find here is simply, ugh. I get the appeal, but at least make it edgy and dark, or add some mystery to it, none of which is found in the limp, stale "Freed." Instead, Foley opts to be as sexist as possible, showing numerous topless scenes of Johnson (one in which she just happens to be getting ready to go out) or overbearingly injecting a pulsating pop song at every plot point. Maybe this is just an expensive commercial for Audi vehicles, which are prominently placed here. And who would've guessed that Christian plays the piano and sings, something that seems pulled out of the sky and never addressed again. Another ugh.

I suppose that the "Fifty Shades" films have their audience who'll go regardless, after all these have managed to turn a profit. Garbage in, garbage out as they say. However, if you're on the fence about it, let me give you not one, but two safe words: Stay. Away.

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