The Magic Mike series never felt like one screaming out for a full-fledged trilogy. Steven Soderbergh’s raunchy 2012 original was an audience-pleasing hit, and its 2015 sequel, Magic Mike XXL, ramped up the hunky fun even further. The following eight years felt like a natural period of stasis, where there was nothing new we could really see in a Magic Mike film. After debating between an HBO Max release and ultimately getting a full-fledged cinematic outing, Magic Mike’s Last Dance proves that this is perhaps a franchise left backstage.
Feeling more like a series epilogue over a proper trilogy-closer, this time around we pick up on Channing Tatum’s Mike Lane in a period of transition. His world-famous brand of raunchy male dance shows is over due to the pandemic, leading him to work as a bartender to make ends meet. A chance encounter and incredibly risqué dance with socialite and theatre owner Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault) lead to Mike directing his own dance show in London, as one final stab at glory.
If the premise of Magic Mike’s Last Dance sounds incredibly different to other films in the franchise, that’s because it is. As previously stated, it feels like a slightly disconnected epilogue over a sequel that develops these characters in any meaningful, new way. Magic Mike XXL worked because it ramped up the crowd-pleasing dance sequences and likeable cast of gruff characters, but Last Dance seems as far away from that as possible.
In terms of the third film in a trilogy, it’s remarkable just how disconnected it is to the other films. Tatum’s Mike is practically the only returning character, aside from a brief Zoom cameo from some of his old troupe, including Joe Manganiello’s Big Dick Ritchie. There aren’t many meaningful callbacks to the previous films, or further changes to Mike as a protagonist, starring in this conclusory film. In fact, it’s hard not to imagine that Magic Mike’s Last Dance started off entirely unrelated to Soderbergh’s original, given just how little of its DNA is seen here.
Yes, there isn’t even that much of the beloved dancing that made the first two films such hits. The raunchiness is still here, but it lacks the camaraderie and sheer fun factor. The dance sequences, when they actually occur, are fun: an opening scene with Mike and Hayek Pinault’s Maxandra is Magic Mike to its core, and the glimpses we see of Mike’s London stage show are in keeping with the style we’ve seen before. But it feels so detached from those other films in its plot and focus that it’s easier to notice the differences rather than the similarities.
Tatum and Hayek Pinault are a surprisingly good match-up, bouncing off each other well and giving the film the only emotional resonance and depth you’ll find in the two-hour runtime. Neither are firing on full cylinders, but it’s clear that Tatum still loves the franchise, with his producer credit testament to that.
But fans of the series will find few home comforts in Magic Mike’s Last Dance. It’s the third entry of a trilogy that feels almost completely detached to everything that’s come before, and generally lacks the spark that made the franchise worthy of a third entry in the first place.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance is available to buy or rent as a Home Premiere now.