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'Fifty Shades Freed' is as stupid-sexy as ever

Universal Pictures DAKOTA JOHNSON and JAMIE DORNAN return as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in "Fifty Shades Freed," the climactic chapter based on the worldwide bestselling "Fifty Shades" phenomenon.
Universal Pictures DAKOTA JOHNSON and JAMIE DORNAN return as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in "Fifty Shades Freed," the climactic chapter based on the worldwide bestselling "Fifty Shades" phenomenon.
Published Feb. 8, 2018

Is it good for you? Do you see fireworks or a Freudian train entering a tunnel? Because Fifty Shades Freed is all up in your libido, finishing the job this softcore trilogy set out to do, stupid-sexier than ever.

After an ultra-kinky courtship, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are now married, opening up new avenues of dominance and submission to explore. Any bump in the road — jealousy, work, a madman chasing them — is easily solved with a thrust and a nuzzle.

Nudity isn't optional anymore. By now we can sketch Dakota Johnson's and Jamie Dornan's bodies from memory. It's a relief on one occasion when Christian begins removing Ana's dress and the movie cuts away to clothed folks. Not for long, of course.

Fifty Shades Freed is the inevitable result of an accidental franchise born in literature and raised by cashing in. There is nowhere logical for the story to go since it wasn't intended to run this long. Sex is everything in this movie because nothing emotional or thrilling registers beyond the moment.

Since these sexual encounters need some linking device, director James Foley keeps it simple. Ana and Christian's Parisian honeymoon is interrupted by news that his corporation's computers have been hacked (and burned for good measure). It's the dirty work of Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), a generic villain with a grudge to be determined later. Now back to the bedroom, kitchen, wherever the urge hits.

Marriage has some interesting effects on Ana and Christian that screenwriter Niall Leonard, adapting wife E.L. James' novel, doesn't give enough attention. There's a feminist glimmer to some of Ana's behavior putting Christian on his heels including her shutdown of an architect (Arielle Kebbel) eyeing her man.

Yet this assertive development is constantly contradicted by Ana's submission. Christian's protective nature ruffles her independence yet she'll beg a bodyguard to not tell him she went for drinks with a girlfriend after work. He does, and it's time out time in the Red Room, where Christian keeps his home depot of sexual devices. Meanwhile, the libertine Christian turns a bit prudish, making Ana cover up on a topless Riviera beach. He gets jelly about a handsome novelist Ana meets and miffed when she keeps her maiden name email address. This occasional flipping of their sexual dynamic is amusing, if not clever.

More often laughs are unintentional, depending on what Ana and Christian are doing before sex. A high speed car chase pauses in a parking lot for a quickie. A nightmare rattles Ana but it's nothing a few ice cream games can't solve. These kids never stop. When Ana learns she's pregnant, you're tempted to yell "It's about time!" at the screen. Fifty Shades Freed concludes with a montage of what may be every single time they kept their clothes on during the trilogy. Don't know about you, but I'm spent.

Contact Steve Persall at spersall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

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