What does it say about an erotic drama when the most stimulating scenes are the ones where its heroine, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), learns to assert herself and find her voice at the publishing firm where she works? Arriving a too-long two years after "Fifty Shades of Grey" burned up the box-office charts but failed to live up to its steamy aspirations, "Fifty Shades Darker" is pretty much more of the sameóbut with a handful of contrived and tawdry new plot developments worthy of a daytime soap. Director James Foley (2007's "Perfect Stranger") has made an aesthetically dashing film, but his slick know-how is no match for a dopey screenplay by Niall Leonard (adapting wife E.L. James' best-selling novel) that is frustratingly trite and never, not once, genuinely sexy.
Tired of living by billionaire beau Christian Grey's (Jamie Dornan) BDSM-centered relationship rules, Anastasia Steele has moved on and earned a job she loves as editor's assistant at Seattle Independent Press. Christian cannot stop thinking about her, however, and soon he is back in her life, pleading for a second chance and ready to renegotiate the terms of their aforementioned agreement. The new ones? "No rules. No punishments. No more secrets." For a damaged man with very specific tastes and childhood traumas he is still trying to work out, giving up his dominance and allowing Ana to be his equal partner is easier said than done. Making matters of the heart even more difficult are the appearances of two people from Christian's murky past: his unstable ex-submissive Leila (Bella Heathcote), whose envy has led her to begin stalking Ana, and Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger), the sultry older woman who introduced him to this fetishistic subculture of bondage, dominance and sadomasochism when he was fifteen.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review