Hard it may be to care for the plastic characters of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, it is harder still when they try and add reasons for their immoral, ego-rubbing behaviours. Abuse of the past leads to power control of the future. Subtle it is not for Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and the primitive approach author E. L. James took to his characteristics. It is the thought, or lack thereof, of everything within Fifty Shades Darker that is so sinister and perplexing. White colour tones and the implication of purity, the sleek metallic greys to match a suave and emotionless character. It is a setpiece-led bit of nonsense that tries to inject emotions into random pockets with little understanding of why middle-aged women liked the film series in the first place.
The back and forth between Christian and Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) relies so heavily on the switch of power that provides just a temporary, simple statement on how these two have “grown” in their time apart from one another. As it turns out, neither have learnt much in their time apart, unless understanding that making mistakes is something completely unavoidable. Audiences will make the mistake of thinking there is any difference between the personalities of two completely distant and forever drifting, isolated husks. They are surrounded by braindead caricatures and Kim Basinger, whose appearance here makes little sense, less impact on the plot than expected, and completely defies what little logic can be applied to the dense world of Fifty Shades Darker.
Shameful that all may be, at least Johnson and Dornan bag themselves another stack of cash. Their work here is terrifyingly glum, but their glazed-over expressions provide some hope and give credence to the idea that they too are sick of this nonsense. Eric Johnson plays supporting fiddle as Jack Hyde, a character whose importance is apparently acute and intense, but in practice comes across as nothing more than a dull hack, just another avenue for the plot to lose itself down and never recover from. There is little to recover from the sickly black tar of Fifty Shades Darker, a film that fails, once again, to adapt the vaguely tongue-in-cheek fanfiction writings of James’ original works. No wonder the features are insufferable, they have yet to understand the anti-erotica stances James accidentally conveyed.
Quite a long film to just have it all be a loose portrayal of Stockholm syndrome. Fifty Shades Darker is far darker than first expected. Darker because it has genuinely sinister ideas about the sexual gratification it tries and fails to display. Its failure not just to display that but to provide the underlining cover of healing and growing a broken man whose antagonism of the first film was irredeemable is a hard pill to swallow and a dull one too. Skip through a copy of Fifty Shades Darker and you will find two empty shells either sat opposite one another at fancy bars, performing sexual acts with one another or both, in some of the worst scenes put to film, provided by director James Foley. It’s no Glengarry Glen Ross, that’s for sure.