Connect with us
Magic Mike's Last Dance
Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Film

Magic Mike’s Last Dance is an Uneven but Entertaining Final Act

Steven Soderbergh returns to direct a solid, but slightly underwhelming finale to the unlikeliest of franchises.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance Review

Few movies are as misunderstood by general audiences as the Magic Mike franchise. Yes, it’s about male strippers, and there is plenty of dancing that could fill a room with steam. However, it’s a franchise built on the versatility of its leading actor, Channing Tatum, and the charisma that he brings to the screen. This is why Magic Mike’s Last Dance ultimately works even when it’s retreading the same ground as its predecessors or branching off into another idea that never gets fully formed. Unfortunately, Steven Soderbergh’s return to the director’s chair brings with it a little bit of disappointment and a lot of untapped potential as Magic Mike’s Last Dance tries to conclude a constantly evolving trilogy by bringing Mike Lane back into a world that never feels quite right.

You can tell a lot about whether someone has watched a Magic Mike movie or their preconception is colored by the subject matter (see: male strippers). The first film, directed by Soderbergh, was a good litmus test for this as it indulged in the dangerous degrees of excess brought on by a lifestyle of entertainment and the disposable nature of sex workers in a capitalist society hungry to satisfy customers. It was an appropriate Soderbergh take on a film that, at first glance, appeared just to be a more mature version of Step Up.

The crowning jewel of the series was Magic Mike XXL, a film about compromise. Gregory Jacobs took over directing duties with a script from Reid Carolin (who, along with Tatum, appears to be the common element of the series) that explored female empowerment through a road trip movie as the Kings of Tampa head towards a stripper convention and realized themselves along the way. It was a fitting last hurrah that makes Soderbergh’s return to Magic Mike’s Last Dance make sense in the context of someone trying to move forward when their best days may be behind them.

Mike Lane is no longer the entrepreneur he once was, forced to confront the harsh reality that even the most passionate business ventures like crafting unique furniture, can be upended at any second. Now a bartender for hire, he finds himself slipping back into the world of entertainment when the recently separated and wealthy socialite, Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault), offers Mike the chance of a lifetime: come to London and direct a one-night-only experience of dancing and female empowerment. Maxandra’s force-of-nature presence becomes the spark of motivation Mike has always needed to fully realize his potential and bring his positivity to a larger stage.

Magic Mike's Last Dance
Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.

At this point in Mike’s life and through the course of the three movies in this franchise, Tatum has imbued what might be his best and most nuanced character yet with an undeniable charisma combined with a vulnerability that has seen him more often flourishing in the moment than being able to keep his life grounded. He’s become a character informed by the myriad of experiences that he has been provided by his unique passion for dancing. The flip side is that he’s also had difficulty ever situating himself, so relationships and following his dreams feel like the kind of fantasy constantly slipping through his fingers.

Carolin’s screenplay is intriguing throughout Magic Mike’s Last Dance due to the excellent character work that came before it. It’s a romance that interrogates the insecurities and past failures of its two central characters, ultimately discovering how they can fulfill each other’s needs. It’s a neat continuation and expansion upon ideas presented in Magic Mike XXL, most notably with Joe Manganiello’s character from the previous film and his relationship with a divorced mother.

This also bleeds into what hurts Magic Mike’s Last Dance more than it probably should. There’s a lot that the film’s screenplay tries to glimpse through a different lens; however, the differences between those lenses are so minute at times that they often feel more like retreads of familiar themes. There are brief reminders of the previous films, but Magic Mike’s Last Dance always works better when it’s not reminiscing or re-engaging with past characters or similar concepts. Unfortunately, Carolin’s screenplay pins itself on the idea of one last show. It makes some wise decisions due to Lane now serving as director of the show instead of the main star, but the film often feels disconnected from its screenplay.

Soderbergh always does a tremendous job with romances, and his film Out of Sight still remains one of the best captured on film. The larger issue here is that there are ideas in the screenplay of compromise and the potential ruin of being too compromising that you never can truly be yourself. There are often times that the producer-director relationship that Maxandra and Mike have over their production feels more like a producer stifling the creativity of their director. However, no conflict arises from these differences of opinion, outside of an expected roadblock that has to come so that someone can insist “the show must go on.” They’re almost all squarely kept within the confines of their romantic relationship, even though Mike may actually have input, but it’s often silenced and not actually acknowledged.

Magic Mike's Last Dance
Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.

It’s a frustrating experience to watch a character get steamrolled over when the film is also trying to say that the character is not being steamrolled over. There seems to be this constant schism in the screenplay that just never manifests in the way Soderbergh tackles the material. Characters will yell at each other and tear the other apart, but the solution comes just as quickly as the conflict. There’s nothing that lingers, and the relationship that forms between Mike and Maxandra is told more through dialogue than feeling. It’s almost as if Soderbergh isn’t actually interested in the romantic relationship of it all and more the director-producer one, which Carolin’s screenplay tries to give equal measure to, but Soderbergh’s direction is less invested in one over the other.

The chemistry between Tatum and Hayek Pinault is unimpeachable, though. Every interaction is electrifying, all building upon a single night of romance that might be the sexiest dance sequence these films have ever had. The film features two scenes with outstanding choreography that leans heavily on the relationship and chemistry between the two characters they center around. The final performance that the film builds up to is a cavalcade of showmanship, and while it pales against the endearing qualities of Magic Mike XXL’s finale, it features a dance involving water that is more entrancing than anything in the previous films. And it can’t even top the emotions running through the opening routine.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance feels like the final piece of a triptych in this weirdly ambitious series of films. There is something beautiful about having experienced the world through the eyes of a young entrepreneur trying to make ends meet, his attempt to relive the glory days, and then what is perceived as his final act but may actually be the beginning of the rest of his life. There are a lot of loose ends that feel frayed, but in the end, Magic Mike’s Last Dance is still a solid swan song for a surprisingly nuanced character study and a glimpse behind the curtain of show business.

Written By

Chris is a graduate of Communications from Simon Fraser University and resides in Victoria, British Columbia. Given a pint, he will talk for days about action films, video games, and the works of John Carpenter.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook

Trending

Susan Wojcicki Net Worth 2024: What Is The Former CEO Of YouTube Worth?

Lifestyle

8 Norwegian Cruise Passengers Were Left Stranded. What If It Was YOU?

Lifestyle

Taina Williams Clears The Air On Pregnancy Rumors Amidst Speculation

News

Vontae Davis Cause of Death Revealed by 911 Call: What Killed Former NFL star?

Celebrity

Donald Trump Trial: Man Sets Himself On Fire Outside Courthouse

Culture

Wale Isn’t Interested In Beefing With Meek Mill: “I Love Minding My Business”

Celebrity

Harry Styles Opens Up On His Journey To Embrace His Sexuality

Celebrity

Doja Cat And Teezo Touchdown Share High-Contrast Music Video For Their New Collab “MASC”

Lifestyle

Aspyn Ovard Files for Divorce from Parker Ferris: Why is Couple Splitting after Birth of 3rd Child?

Celebrity

Bianca Censori Once Again Pushes The Envelope With Her Latest See-Through Look

Lifestyle

Who Is Jason Kelce’s Wife? Inside the Life of Kylie McDevitt Kelce, Wife of NFL Star!

Celebrity

Flavor Flav Denies Involvement In “Flavor Of Love” Reboot: “That Is A Complete Lie”

Celebrity

Don Lemon Marries His Long-Time Friend in a NYC Wedding Ceremony! 

Celebrity

Aspyn and Parker’s Relationship Status: What to Know About the YouTuber and Her Husband After Split!

Celebrity

Who Is Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s Ex-Fiancé Ken Urker? Revisiting Her Previous Relationship!

Celebrity

O.J. Simpson cause of death: How Did Simpson Die?

Celebrity

Connect