Review: Channing Tatum suits up and strips down (possibly) one last time as struggling stripper Mike Lane in Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Combined with excellent camerawork by Steven Soderbergh and an impeccably volatile Salma Hayek, the crew says goodbye in a fitting fashion.
Steven Soderbergh just keeps cranking these movies out. After a busy few years, he’s chosen to increase the stakes of his constant streaming releases and build a whole new world inside his Magic Mike universe. Aptly titled Magic Mike’s Last Dance, Soderbergh and leading star Channing Tatum reunite for one last ride with the world’s hunkiest male stripper. But this time, they’re going overseas and recruiting the ageless wonder Salma Hayek.
When Mike Lane’s furniture business goes under due to the pressures of the pandemic, he begins to pick up nightly gigs to help pay back his lenders. During a bartending job one fateful night, he meets Maxandra Mendoza (Hayek), and the two begin to sketch out the newest show at her London theater. When personal relationships and stakes begin to turn south, the chances of Mike’s last dance slowly begin to fade and fade.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a noticeable change of pace for the franchise. Despite Steven Soderbergh’s return to direct the supposed-final entry into Channing Tatum’s set of male stripper joyrides, the sendoff takes very little from the two installments that come before it. The cast is smaller, the ambition runs deeper, and the boldest moments go above and beyond what either of the previous two Magic Mike films aimed to achieve.
Yet I couldn’t help but feel like Magic Mike’s Last Dance was trying to catch lightening in a bottle for a hefty amount of the movie’s buildup. The franchise’s glare and pull (besides being a heavily choreographed juggernaut) is that it pulls back the curtains on a group of devilishly handsome males trying to fit in with society while performing a task that makes them feel like outcasts. The previous movies focused on the performers, which made each act even more lively.
Instead, Channing Tatum takes a momentary backseat as Mike Lane opts to direct the next set of dancers rather than joining them. Of course, this is short-lived as Tatum performs in one of the best dance scenes this side of the turn of the millennium (actually, two if you’re counting the opening sequence with Salma Hayek as well), but the decrease in tension and momentum is felt as the back-and-forth between Tatum and Hayek is noticeably less interesting when it’s a set of industry heads trading jabs.
I wasn’t expecting Magic Mike’s Last Dance to feel like the most personal project in Soderbergh’s oeuvre in years, but I suppose it makes sense. After all, the Magic Mike franchise is either his most or second-most successful franchise, swapping places with the Oceans series depending on the viewer – although it’s hard to dedicate every ounce of the Magic Mike success to Soderbergh given that Gregory Jacobs was tasked with directing the second film.
But the movie feels like a commentary on Steven Soderbergh’s creative process throughout the making of Magic Mike’s Last Dance. Salma Hayek’s character is a go-for-broke visionary wanting to put on one last great show before losing her stage complex to her soon-to-be ex-husband. Her character will be a real litmus test for viewers and could completely lose some early on in its runtime. I was relatively lukewarm on her, but Hayek’s performance was more than enough to sell me on what Soderbergh was trying to convey.
Reviews for Movies like Magic Mike’s Last Dance
I thought quite a bit of Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game, and I think I have many of the same criticisms for Magic Mike’s Last Dance as I did for that movie. Maxandra is presented as an incredibly strong-minded and powerful woman in a world domineered by men, yet many of her choices and opportunities come at the hands of men around her. Soderbergh presents Magic Mike’s Last Dance as a heavy handed double-bill, yet Mike seems to hold all the cards despite having little cash or currency to make any decisions.
But Salma Hayek takes control, and her chemistry with Channing Tatum is what ultimately allows Magic Mike’s Last Dance to succeed. It’s a flawed movie, but when it’s soaring, it is absolutely working at as high of a clip as the previous two movies. The opening dance sequence is breathtakingly directed and performed, and the final showcase is equally jaw-dropping. Soderbergh proves he sets a camera up about as well as anyone in Hollywood throughout the duration of the film, but it’s specifically gawky in those two scenes.
I could go on about nitpicks that I have with the film. The dancers are shockingly dull and character-less. The middle section feels like it’s running in circles over and over. Again, Hayek’s character feels incredibly one-note – but frankly, I don’t care. It’s fun, and there’s few franchises that can successfully land the plane again after again when it feels like there’s nothing left in the tank. Magic Mike’s Last Dance signals the end for the franchise, but given how Soderbergh and Tatum continue to prove that they can churn these out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike Lane step up on that stage again in the future.
Where to watch Magic Mike’s Last Dance: Max, VOD
Film Cast and Credits
Channing Tatum as Mike Lane
Salma Hayek as Maxandra Mendoza
Ayub Khan-Din as Victor
Jemelia George as Zadie Rattigan
Juliette Motamed as Hannah
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Reid Carolin
Cinematography: Steven Soderbergh
Editor: Steven Soderbergh
Magic Mike’s Last Dance movie on Letterboxd
Magic Mike’s Last Dance movie on IMDb