To the surprise of absolutely no one ever, Fifty Shades Freed is absolutely terrible. It’s not like it had much to live up to, either. 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey and 2017’s Fifty Shades Darker were both pretty awful flicks, sporting a combined Rotten Tomatoes rating of under 18 percent. Despite all the horrendous reviews the series has had lobbed its way, the first two films have combined to pull in nearly $1 billion at the box office. Losing faith in humanity yet?
In their defense, franchise stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan haven’t exactly had prime source material to work with. EL James’ Fifty Shades novels have been almost universally panned since they first started rolling out onto bookshelves back in 2011. But amateur-ish prose and a complete inability to string a plot together be damned -- the author's attempt to bring the world of BDSM into the mainstream somehow translated into a best-selling series, one that's sold over 125 million copies worldwide. Film studios simply can't ignore a fanbase that large, of course, so Universal Pictures quickly jumped at the chance to bring Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele to the big screen.
If nothing else, moviegoers can take solace in the fact that one of the worst movie trilogies of all time is coming to an end. (That is, assuming Universal Pictures isn’t looking to adapt the fourth installment, Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian, which is exactly what it sounds like and exactly as torturous as you're imagining.) And if you're thinking that we're being a bit too rough on this one, you should see how ruthless the critics are treating it. Here are The Most Brutal Reviews Of Fifty Shades Darker.
Marginally better than its predecessor, Fifty Shades Darker, in much the same way that being shot through the head is better than being guillotined; at the very least, there’s not all that blinking and wondering where your body has gone. -- FILMINK (Australia)
At this point, Johnson and Dornan can't even go through the motions of spank-pant-rinse-repeat with any conviction. They look as bored as we are. Back in 2015, we generously awarded Fifty Shades of Grey a one-star rating. For the sequel, we cut that down to half a star. With this last entry, we have officially hit the bottom of the barrel. Whips, chains, butt plugs and nipple clips are nothing compared to the sheer torture of watching this movie. -- Rolling Stone
If another sequel shows up, though, I’m going to have to use my safe word ... If I can persuade just one of you to bypass its milquetoast masochism and watch the stratospherically superior "9 1/2 Weeks" instead, then I will have done my job. -- New York Times
You’re just left wondering who thought that car chase was genuinely thrilling, who greenlit this dialogue, and who thought to simply ignore the realities of the world in favor of whatever’s most narratively convenient by the scene ... It’s absurd, and not in a fun way ... Give or take one excellent joke about the practical applications of handcuffs — delivered with expert awkwardness by Dakota Johnson, who remains the only moderately charming element of the trilogy — the film is as devoid of wit as it is of subtlety, and that combined absence, courtesy of screenwriter Niall Leonard, leads to some of its biggest unintentional laughs. There aren’t nearly enough of those laughs to make this an enjoyable hate-watch, however. -- Consequence of Sound
Johnson and Dornan retain the chemistry of two mannequins knocked into each other in a department-store storage closet; the actual sex scenes play more like aerobics videos than anything actually steamy. -- AZCentral
E.L. James, has successfully turned Twilight fanfiction into a mediocre “BDSM” series that is not only less sexy than Twilight (which, God, is that saying a lot), but also doubled down on everything that was bad about the original. Kudos. -- The Mary Sue
Despite all evidence to the contrary, Fifty Shades Freed - like the two films before it - seems desperate to convince somebody, even itself, that the story it’s telling is actually worth telling. But methinks the movie doth protest too much. When all is said and done, what was said was badly written and what was done wasn’t very interesting. Fifty Shades Freed concludes the trilogy as it began, with a romance you can’t believe in, endless montages of affluence, lousy dialogue, weak plotting, and - admittedly - a heck of a lot of sex. -- IGN
Hang up the chains and lock the Red Room: Our painfully unsexy cinematic nightmare is about over. -- USA Today
Jesus, who wrote this, a 12-year-old? Fifty Shades Freed is meant to make us believe that a matching tea towel marriage doesn’t preclude shirtless Fabio romance novel cover sex, but everything is so catalog-ready and scrubbed free of humanity that it actually does the opposite. Monogamy and kinky sex are just another thing to dream about but never have, like a private jet and a vacation home in Aspen. -- Uproxx
Indeed, a sex-free, PG-13 version of “Freed” could be cut without shedding a second of narrative coherence, such as it is; one could ask what the point of that would be, though similar queries might be leveled at the film as it stands. -- Variety