MAGIC MIKE'S LAST DANCE
February 10, 2023 / Warner Bros. Pictures Canada
Starring: Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek Pinault, Ayub Khan Din, Jemelia George
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
“Magic” Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) takes to the stage again after a lengthy hiatus, following a business deal that went bust, leaving him broke and taking bartender gigs in Florida. For what he hopes will be one last hurrah, Mike heads to London with a wealthy socialite (Salma Hayek Pinault) who lures him with an offer he can’t refuse… and an agenda all her own. With everything on the line, once Mike discovers what she truly has in mind, will he—and the roster of hot new dancers he’ll have to whip into shape—be able to pull it off?
Written By Darren
Rating 3.5 out of 5
Magic Mike's Last Dance is easily the best film of the Magic Mike trilogy thanks to the electric romantic chemistry between Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault, while featuring the strongest dancing of the entire trilogy.
The Magic Mike franchise has a reputation for being the Channing Tatum stripper film series, and while the first two films in the series could be classified as such, the third film is so much more than that. At its core, the film is a romance film that is tonally a very different film from the previous two, while maintaining the elaborate dance sequences that made the franchise a hit in the first place.
Years after the second film, we find Mike down on his luck after his business collapsed during the pandemic, working as a bartender. But after bartending a party hosted by Salma Hayek Pinault’s Maxandra ‘Max’ Mendoza, a wealthy socialite who makes Mike an offer he can't refuse. From there, Mike finds himself in London directing a one night only show at Max’s theatre alongside Max, causing feelings between the two of them to grow.
I would never say that the first two films in the Magic Mike series had a great story. There was enough story in them to create the fun, exotic dance movies they were, but this film offers the most developed story of the entire series. While you miss seeing the rest of the Kings of Tampa, who only have a brief Zoom call in the film, the romance between Mike and Max is more than enough to make up for their absence. Both Mike and Max are at a crossroads in their life, and what starts as a paid dance, quickly blossoms into something truly enchanting as you watch them fall for each other. Like any good romance, there are obstacles in their way ensuring that a happy ending for the characters does not come easily, and Reid Carolin’s screenplay crafts an engaging story that is easy to become invested in. The change in the story’s focus to a romance was a welcomed change from first two films, which each had their different narrative pitfalls, resulting in a film that had no moments where the audience is not entertained.
At this point, it is clear that this franchise is Tatum’s passion project. It is evident in the scenes where Mike is directing the rehearsals for the one night only show, as you see Tatum light up on screen with joy as he drills down the dance routines with the dancers. In this moment, Mike and Tatum become one on screen, as Tatum explores his passion for dance. When it comes to the dance numbers, Tatum has never danced better in a film, infusing every move with fluidity and true love for the art form. Outside the theater and the dance numbers, Tatum slips easily back into the character of Mike, finding the optimistic and sweet man that audiences have fallen in love with over the course of the series.
Even though she was cast in the role after production had begun on the film, you would never know that given the wonderful performance by Hayek Pinault. Every second she is on screen, she is a pistol, bringing her signature attitude and comedic talents to the film and making the character her own. At the same time, Hayek Pinault crafts a true fight in Max as she tries to do something for herself despite the efforts of her ex-husband to stop her, capturing an emotional depth to the character that you would not expect from this film. The result is an instantly lovable character that brings true joy to the film every second Hayek Pinault is on screen.
Bringing to life the romance at the centre of the story is an undeniable passion between Tatum and Hayek Pinault. The two of them are a wonderful pairing, creating some laugh out loud moments in the first half. But as they each begin to develop feelings for the other as the story progresses, there is an electrifying connection between them that leaps off the screen. It hits the audience like a tsunami, instantly investing them in the romance between Mike and Max, leaving them rooting for Mike to find that happiness that he has been searching for over the course of the entire series.
While the first two films featured dance numbers that you would find in a strip club, the third film takes a different approach to the dance numbers. There are some small dance numbers over the course of the film, leaving the focus on the two main dances in the film: the lust filled dance that Mike gives for Max at the beginning of the film, and the one night extravaganza which closes out the film. The dance between Mike and Max is similar to the dances of the first two films, full of acrobatic dance moves that will have you hot and flustered in your seat. It is the show that Mike and Max direct that ups the ante for the dance numbers of the series. The entire sequence is theatrical, playing out like an X rated Broadway musical featuring the most elaborate dancing of the series. While there is an undeniable sensual and passionate nature to the dances that delivers what audiences are looking for from the film, the choreography is elegant, resulting in a phenomenal and energetic closing scene for the film. It’s a thirty minute sequence full of different routines and performances, but Tatum’s arousing dance on the rainy stage is without a doubt the highlight not just of the sequence, but one of the best moments of the entire film.
Straying from the male stripper focused stories of the first two films is a bold move by Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum, but it pays off in spades. Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault brilliantly bring to life the romance at the centre of the film with their great performances, combined with sensational and steamy dance numbers unlike anything the series has offered before, ensuring that Magic Mike’s Final Dance has saved the best for last.