February 8th, 2023
MOVIE: MAGIC MIKE’S LAST DANCE
STARRING: CHANNING TATUM, SALMA HAYEK, CAITLIN GERARD
DIRECTED BY: STEVEN SODERBERGH
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
Even Magic Mike needs to move on from his party boy ways. The third installment– Magic Mike’s Last Dance– is undoubtedly the biggest narrative surprise of the trilogy, which typically follows the male stripper and his adventures. On one hand, this is a more mature look at where our title character is in life. On the other hand, it is lacking in the energy that wowed audiences from the previous two installments. Steven Soderbergh is back in the director’s chair and Channing Tatum has still got the moves, but this time the magic is just not there. Magic Mike’s Last Dance is all out of step.
We catch up with Mike (Tatum) back in Miami, licking his wounds from a failed business during Covid, and now bartending at private parties. He’s slinging drinks at a charity event for wealthy business woman Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek). Midway through, a guest recognizes Mike from his stripping past and recommends to Max that she pay him for his “services”. Soderbergh kicks off the fun with a lengthy, erotic, and sweat inducing dance between the two. The connection is so strong that Max invites Mike to live with her in Europe for a month where she plans to put together a new strip show at her ex-husband’s Rattigan theater.
The challenge becomes about Mike being able to prove that he can direct his own show– with the help of Max and her money– while the sexual tension between the two becomes a point of contention. On paper that would sound like enough to make Last Dance vibrate but the failure lies in the screenplay by Reid Carolin. There is surprisingly a lack of stripping, a steady monotone narration by Max’s daughter Hannah (Juliette Motamed) that either distracts or bores, and too many characters just standing around. There is a lack of energy that never exists in Soderbergh’s work. Magic Mike introduced us to the dancer community, Magic Mike XXL made us a part of their stripping family, and here we are just out to lunch. If this was meant to be a final course we are not full.
It’s a rare misstep for Soderbergh as well. His recent films Kimi, No Sudden Move, and High Flying Bird all had impeccable energy. It’s evident the director still has a great technique, where he uses montages to display key moments of dancing, transitions that make bodies look intertwined, and framing that always draws us to the characters. It’s clear that the camera loves Tatum and Hayak– as it should– but the edge of Mike is gone. He’s less open to wild behavior. Subdued to impress Max’s rich friends and too preoccupied to have a relationship that feels romantic. The charisma from Tatum and Hayek’s performances are there, but the script never lets them flourish. One could also not help but feel the missing presence of Joe Manganiello and Matthew McConaughey.
The unfortunate part is that it’s not all terrible. There is a bit of maturity to the story that feels genuine and Soderbergh was making it more like a sports film. We see the training of the team, Tatum goes back to his Step it Up roots, and a gradual build up to the big finale. And that finale is good. It’s just at this point the air feels sucked out. Magic Mike’s Last Dance is just following the wrong choreography.
MAGIC MIKE’S LAST DANCE IS IN THEATERS FRIDAY FEBRUARY 10TH, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady