Magic Mike’s Last Dance: A Fantastic Finale

If Magic Mike is a drama about the economic fallout of the 2008 financial crisis and Magic Mike XXL is a road movie, then Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a romantic comedy. The film picks up with Mike (Channing Tatum) after the Covid-19 lockdown and the failure of his carpentry business as he makes ends meet by taking different gigs.

One such gig is as a bartender at a fundraiser for a wealthy woman’s charity of choice. Mike, being the incredibly handsome and charming man he is, immediately attracts the attention of host Max (Salma Hayek). As Mike breaks down his bar after the event, he’s summoned to see Max, who, informed by a fellow partygoer who recognized Mike from his stripping days, requests a dance.

It’s a life-changing dance for Max, and maybe for the audience, that leads the two into bed together and to Max asking Mike to come to London with her. But she isn’t asking that he be her boy toy. In fact, she doesn’t want to get involved romantically; she wants him to create a show.

A Rom-Com With a Heist (Kinda)

Max is in the middle of a divorce with her husband and has (for the time being) won ownership of a theater. The theater is running an old play about a beautiful young woman forced between choosing two men, one she loves and one who is wealthy, and Max wants to shake things up. If it’s a show about a woman and her desires, shouldn’t it ignite desires in the women in the audience?

Thus the film shifts into what is almost a heist plot. Mike and Max set up auditions for dancers but also roam the streets of London searching for street performers that they think have the talent to make the show great. It’s classic “getting the team together” stuff reminiscent of director Steven Soderbergh’s work on the Ocean’s trilogy.

Even more reminiscent of the Ocean’s films is an extended sequence in which the team of dancers tails a bureaucrat that they need to win over to their side so they can get approval for making changes to the historic theater. There are even scenes of the group sitting around, thinking of ways to overcome obstacles that feel like the brainstorming scenes in those films.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance feels like a victory lap for this series and for Soderbergh in general. Here he shows that he can deliver the standard romantic comedy beats perfectly and offers the best of his heist films and the previous Magic Mike movies in the impeccably shot dancing/stripping sequences.

The Beauty of Dance (and Male Bodies)

Magic Mike’s Last Dance is simultaneously the film in the trilogy that is most and least about dancing and stripping. The movie includes a voiceover about the anthropology of dance, and the plot revolves around the (inherently meta) work of creating a show centered on dance, but that also allows the actual dancing to fall into the background a bit.

There are montages of dance as we see Max and Mike put together their dream team, and when we see that dream team prepare for the show. But most of the movie focuses on the relationship between Max and Mike. It makes sense, the film is, first and foremost, a romantic comedy about their ups and downs, but it also means that we don’t get as many extended dance sequences as we have from previous films in the series.

Part of that is also because Mike says he is no longer a dancer and doesn’t want to perform in the show and that the film doesn’t take any time to build up the other performers as characters. This leaves us with only two dances in the film with a character we care about. But both of those dances are transcendent.

The first is the aforementioned dance that changes Max’s life and inspires her to bring Mike back to London. It’s an incredible sequence of wordless seduction that takes the two all over Max’s lavish Miami home and is sure to get every audience member hot and bothered. The second pairs Mike with a ballerina, and it is explosive. The choreography, performed on a stage drenched in fake rain, tells a story that’s romantic, dramatic, and, of course, wildly sexy.

There’s joy in seeing the other men in various states of artful gyrating undress, but they only get one standout sequence, an adorable flash mob on a bus, and even that feels cut short. It’s a shame, as all of these dancers are talented and, of course, very good-looking. But that disappointment doesn’t drag the film down in any meaningful way because what we do see is so striking.

An Imperfect Joyride

Magic Mike’s Last Dance has some significant flaws. Mike’s friends, who rounded out the ensemble in previous films, only appear briefly via zoom. The class issues at the heart of the first film and integral to the narrative of the second are absent here, despite some early moments that make it seem as though class will be the central conflict between Max and Mike. The conversations about “empowering women” through the show are basic and unnecessary.

But Soderbergh’s talent behind the camera, Tatum and Hayek’s chemistry, and the stunning dance sequences we get with Tatum are more than enough to make the film a delight. Like Magic Mike XXL, it’s a movie about creating joy that makes that joy infectious.

8/10 SPECS

Magic Mike’s Last Dance releases in theaters nationwide on February 10.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.