Starring: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson
One out of five stars
An epic and intoxicating exploration of the human heart and psyche. That’s how no one will ever describe the demoralizing cinematic effort titled “Fifty Shades Darker.”
The first 10 minutes of the film offer hope. Director James Foley, who’s great when he has a reasonable script to work with, does his best to frame a story that pretends to have a plot. Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia Steele is starting her dream job at a publishing company while fending off overtures from her S&M-loving, freakishly handsome, billionaire ex-boyfriend, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). It also becomes immediately apparent that Anastasia’s boss, Jack (Eric Johnson), has more than a professional interest in his new assistant.
It seems like a compelling story is about to ensue — “seems” being the operative word.
I suppose the catalyst for the alleged plot is Christian’s efforts to get Anastasia back into his red room or, at the very least, do whatever it takes to win her back. For the uninitiated, the red room is Christian’s “dungeon,” the place where he takes his “submissives,” aka “subs,” ties them up and then employs nipple clamps and all sorts of devices that look like they came straight out of the Spanish Inquisition.
But hard as it might be for Christian to give up his predilection, he’s willing to do that, if it means winning Anastasia back. And…
Oh, why am I even bothering? After watching those first 10 minutes, here’s what watching the rest of “Fifty Shades Darker” is like: watching paint dry.
Christian orders Anastasia to take off her underwear. We see Dakota Johnson’s breasts, her bare butt, a close-up of Jamie Dornan’s abs. They simulate sex. The paint dries.
Christian orders Anastasia to take off her underwear. Christian asks Anastasia to try a, um, wearable sex toy. We see Dakota Johnson’s breasts, her bare butt, a close-up of Jamie Dornan’s abs. They simulate sex. And the paint dries some more.
Christian orders Anastasia to take off her underwear. Anastasia warms up to the idea of being submissive again. We see etc. etc., and they etc.
The paint is almost dry. Then somebody almost dies. A famous actress slaps another famous actress.
Is it over yet? Wait — what? There’s going to be a third movie? NOOOO…!
I guess if the goal was to make the sex in “Fifty Shades Darker” more graphic and shocking than in the first movie, they succeeded. Too bad the sexual chemistry between Dornan and Johnson is like the sexual chemistry between a leprechaun and a sasquatch, neither of which actually exists. Which is exactly the point.