The written relationship in the script might scream “toxic,” and Ana is often just a powerless pawn in the games of men, but as usual, Dakota Johnson makes the otherwise boring Ana sparkle. She is the MVP of “Fifty Shades,” with more than enough insouciant charm to make up for Dornan’s dour performance, and she never takes the material too seriously — see her shocked and silly reactions to the new sex toys he suggests. She even has the ability to deliver an angry, character-defining monologue while topless and pulling on pantyhose.
It’s a relief Johnson is now free to brighten up better projects that are more worthy of her talents. We’ll never forget the challenges that were thrown her way in these films, not just physically. What could have perhaps been even more difficult than the sex scenes were those extra-cheesy double entrendres, which Johnson managed to earnestly deliver with both a smile and a wink. Brava.
“Fifty Shades Freed”
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan and Eric Johnson. Directed by James Foley.
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, and language. Check listings for theaters. 1 hour, 45 minutes.
Bottom line: The third film is maybe the most competently made