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Magic Mike’s Last Dance

While nowhere near perfect, this energetic finale lets the dancing and chemistry lead the way to a good time.

This article predates the Odd Trilogies website.
It was originally published on Film Yap.

It’s always fascinating to watch a franchise expand over time, especially when the basis of that franchise is a film about Channing Tatum playing a stripper. In the decade since Magic Mike was released in theaters, the Steven Soderbergh film has led to a sequel, a live show in Las Vegas, and even a reality show on HBO Max. Despite the lack of a film in the latter half of the 2010’s, Magic Mike as a brand has surprisingly kept its longevity in other mediums.

Although its longevity is impressive, the brand probably doesn’t feel the same without Soderbergh in the director’s chair or Tatum in front of the camera. With how much Soderbergh has put out in the last decade (ten movies and two television shows from 2012 to 2022), it begs the question: if Tatum was interested, would they commit to another Magic Mike sequel? If so, what would that even look like?

The answer to both of those questions comes out today in the form of Magic Mike’s Last Dance, the final film in the trilogy. Taking place several years after Magic Mike XXL, Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) now works as a bartender since the pandemic forced him to shut down his custom furniture company. While working a charity event in Miami, he catches the eye of socialite Maxandra “Max” Mendoza (Salma Hayek). In hopes of taking her mind off of her divorce, Max pays Mike to entertain her with a dance.

What transpires during the dance is a euphoric connection that Max just can’t let go of, asking Mike to come to London with her for a month. While hesitant at first, the promise of a job opportunity (as well as the chance to spend more time with Max) leads him to take her offer.

When Mike arrives in London, he realizes that Max’s job offer is to be a director, using his dancing expertise to revamp a classic play into a modernized production that can revitalize the prestigious theater. As the duo develop the show, the romance between Max and Mike blossoms to a point where both parties are cautious about where it goes from there.

As outside forces try to stop the production, will Max and Mike be able to complete the show? Will their love last? And will Mike finally be able to have the happy ending he deserves? 

Similarly to XXLLast Dance is an odd sequel that not only works fine entirely on its own but also can’t help but remind the audience that the original film wasn’t really setting itself up to become a trilogy. Nevertheless, Last Dance is a very enjoyable film that focuses on entertaining dance sequences, strong chemistry between its leads, and a change from a grounded tone to a more romanticized one that feels earned when compared to Mike’s journey in the past two films.

For a trilogy that has constantly tested Mike’s creativity and relationships, it’s no surprise that writer Reid Carolin (who is the sole writer for all three films) decided to give Mike a golden opportunity. While Mike as a character still feels a bit undercooked after three movies, it’s no surprise that Channing Tatum still carries Mike easily with confidence and personality that hasn’t faltered in any of the films. In terms of romance, all he needed was the right partner to bounce off of.

While the love interests in the previous two films felt awkward, Salma Hayek’s Max is able to give Mike a worthy dance partner that decently fills the hole that those previous films had. Max and Mike’s relationship is pretty straightforward, pushing Tatum and Hayek to use their chemistry to make up for a lacking emotional connection. It’s easy to see, from a writing standpoint, why these two would fall in love, but it’s very clear that miscasting Max even slightly would’ve hurt the film.

Hayek’s take on Max brings the boldness and energy that very few female characters have had in the Magic Mike films, helping her stand out even more as a possible match for Mike. In a basic sense, they fuel each other’s passion which is perfect for a film about using dancing as a revitalization.

Speaking of dancing, Last Dance probably has the least amount of dance sequences in all three films. That doesn’t stop the film from creating dance sequences that are energetic, sultry, and very entertaining. With how well-shot and choreographed the sequences are, the film oozes style every time a dancer is given a chance to shine.

For a trilogy that became popular through men just grinding on women in between the plot, it’s nice to see how each film has slowly progressed the dancing through the shifts in Mike’s passion as a dancer. From the first film showing Mike using stripping as an escape to XXL showing how dancing gives Mike a second wind creatively, it is cool to see Mike’s biggest (and possible only) arc come to fruition through a stage show that uses all of his talents to show the world his true potential through dance. 

While I’m mainly surprised by how much I enjoyed Last Dance, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its faults. Like I said before, while Tatum and Hayek have wonderful chemistry, their emotional connection does feel superficial at times. On top of that, the film has an odd narration choice that feels quite unnecessary. It’s less jarring as the film goes on, but it ultimately feels like it overstays its welcome by the third or fourth time.

Finally, as the final film in a trilogy, it really doesn’t have much to tie up narratively or thematically that the previous two films didn’t already cover, so it ultimately ends up feeling quite disconnected as a finale. 

Overall, even with its flaws, Last Dance is a very entertaining film that feels on par with its predecessors. With fun dancing and strong chemistry between its leads, this finale feels like the perfect matinee film, especially for a release around Valentine’s Day. While the lack of returning characters might lead some fans to feel unsatisfied, the focus that Last Dance has on its titular character gives him a chance to shine in a fresh, new light that many will enjoy.

Did Magic Mike need to end up becoming a trilogy? Honestly, no.

That being said, in the end, Magic Mike’s Last Dance still comes out as a very enjoyable finale that is worth the time of anyone looking for a good time.

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Freelance writer out of Indianapolis. Co-host of Odd Trilogies podcast. Whether it's films or television, I'm always down to watch!

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