Fifty Shades Darker Jamie Dornan Dakota Johnson

Slip into something a shade darker.

Too boring to be laughable, the sequel to 2015’s screen adaptation of E L James’s bestselling bonkbuster is so awful it makes its much-mocked predecessor look like a masterpiece.

Jamie Dornan’s kinky business tycoon Christian Grey is desperate to win back his lover, Dakota Johnson’s shy but feisty Anastasia Steele. So desperate he even promises to rein back on the S&M. Of course, no one expects this leopard to change his spots overnight. But with James Foley taking over as director from the edgier Sam Taylor-Johnson, the bedroom antics in this outing are altogether tamer – the ice cream Ana picks up in the supermarket isn’t the only thing here that’s vanilla.

Fifty Shades Darker Jamie Dornan

Yet Dornan’s Christian is still a controlling misogynistic creep. Which makes Ana’s interest in him all the more of a puzzle, despite the best efforts of Johnson, again outclassing her co-star. The atrocious dialogue – scripted by author James’s husband, Niall Leonard – doesn’t help. There’s no tension at all in the Ana-Christian relationship, so the only way the filmmakers can generate suspense is to throw in some half-hearted threats from other characters – Ana’s new boss, a submissive ex of Christian’s and his former ‘Mrs Robinson’, played by Kim Basinger.

In the end, though, the film is so dull you really do need to be a masochist to sit through it, although some viewers may find the lavish wealth porn an escapist turn on.

Certificate 18. Runtime 118 mins. Director James Foley

Fifty Shades Darker available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD & On Demand from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Read romance novelist Heidi Rice’s alternative take on Fifty Shades Darker.