I will admit that I am not the target audience for the Magic Mike franchise, but the original film and its sequel Magic Mike XXL are still decent films that revolve around male entertainer Mike Lane and his attempts to break out of the stripping business and follow his own passions. Yes, there is plenty of tanned bodies and bulging muscles gyrating on stages, but there’s also comedy and heart in its characters and the bromance they share. Magic Mike’s Last Dance tosses the majority of that away in an attempt to start something new. The dancing and half naked hunks are still present, but the story is a shadow of its former self. Ultimately Magic Mike’s Last Dance doesn’t go out with a bang but with a whimper.
After losing his furniture business due to the economy, Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) finds himself working as a bartender in Miami. While on a job he meets the illustrious socialite Max (Salma Hayek Pinault), who in the midst of a messy divorce requests a dance from Mike after hearing about his past. Seeing his potential, Max takes Mike with her back to London and offers him the opportunity to direct his own show so that other ladies can experience the emotions she felt while getting a dance from Mike. Even though his stripping days are over Mike puts his trust in Max for one last dance.
For some reason, Mike always finds himself back to square one with each new Magic Mike installment. Each previous film has ended with him getting the girl and getting out of the stripping business. Brief exposition explains why he’s no longer with whoever or why his furniture business is struggling, and Magic Mike’s Last Dance is no different. It was fine for Magic Mike XXL, but this time around it’s harder to start from ground zero in building his character up…again. It’s also more difficult because Mike is no longer the primary focus of the film, with Max and her urges to be free taking center stage. The film gets off to a decent start with a sexy opening number that ignites a spark between Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault. But that spark doesn’t last long and is quickly extinguished by a dull plotline and secondary characters that bring little to the story.
The majority of Magic Mike’s Last Dance revolves around Mike creating this once-in-a-lifetime show for Max and assembling and training a team of male entertainers to delight women across London. It’s been 11 years since the original Magic Mike came out so it makes sense for Channing Tatum to be the one directing dancers this time around rather than being one. The problem is that the film doesn’t do anything interesting with that idea. Whereas previous films brought character and passion to the stripping scenes, here it feels lifeless despite an abundance of perfectly toned bodies on screen. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Ken, Tito, Tarzan, and Big Dick Richie are absent from the film except for an awkwardly shot Zoom conference call. Once again, everything that the previous films built has been torn down and Mike has to build himself back up from the bottom. This third and supposedly final chapter for Mike should be his last hurrah. Instead, it’s introducing far too many new characters into the mix and does little to make you care about them.
The dancing and choreography of the film is good, with the third act bringing the excitement back onto the stage. Channing Tatum still has it after all these years. It does feel somewhat toned down compared to previous films, though. The Magic Mike franchise has always felt like the R-rated version of the Step Up films for adults. Here it feels a little more tame and restricted. But don’t worry ladies, there is still plenty of abs to go around the table. That’s unfortunately the only good thing I have to say about the film.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance is the weakest in the trilogy. Rather than focus on closing out Mike Lane’s story, the film pushes forward with new characters that don’t hit their marks. The relationship between Mike and Max feels forced, which is evident by the big dance sequence that is supposed to capture their romance but features Max watching Mike from the sidelines as he recreates their moments together with a ballerina dancer. It’s a beautifully choreographed sequence, but it just doesn’t have any emotion to it. That’s how the entire film can be summed up unfortunately; beautiful but emotionless.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance tosses the majority of the emotion and story created by its predecessors away in an attempt to start something new. The dancing and half naked hunks are still present, but the story is a shadow of its former self. Ultimately Magic Mike’s Last Dance doesn’t go out with a bang but with a whimper.