Channing Tatum’s muscular character “Magic” Mike Lane, stripper and handsome sex-positive recipient of the thirsty female gaze, is back again for this wacky but hastily packaged and oddly anti-climactic threequel from director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Reid Carolin.
As the US emerges from the Covid pandemic, Mike has been through some tough times. He’s approaching his 40th birthday (but looking good), a business he started has failed, and now he works as a bartender. But as he serves drinks in a good mood at a posh charity gala in Miami, there’s a connection between him and socialite hostess Max Mendoza (Salma Hayek). Sizzlingly sexy Max learns from one of her guests – this is Kim, played by Caitlin Gerard, a veteran of 2012’s first Magic Mike movie – that Mike was a smoking hot dancer and so Max asks him to a private show. Mike commits to a rousing quasi-sex scene, and lovesick Max takes Mike to London to direct and choreograph a well-oiled male dance show in the grand theater she’s been given by her soon-to-be ex. spouse in divorce proceedings.
There’s quite a bit of fun and some nice dancing scenes along the way; Ayub Khan-Din is funny when Max’s funny valet Victor and Vicki Pepperdine get it right as the downtrodden British bureaucrat who is persuaded to reverse her objections to the show with a private group dance on the top deck of a bus. But the film is laced with a strange kind of eccentricity and features the most mind-boggling “Intermission” gag I’ve ever seen – a cod interval, placed almost randomly, with the word “Intermission” over a cute picture of puppies, with no comedic impact .
Plus, the entire film has a cobbled together feel, almost as if Soderbergh only directed a few key scenes and left the rest to someone else: Mike-Max’s first private dance, the pair staring at each other in close-up over dinner. , then kissing in the back of a cab. The other components, even the big choreographed sequences, feel a bit generic. And towards the end, the spotlight unsettlingly swings away from Hayek and the all-important Mike-Max relationship to two other rather pointless female characters: Hannah (Juliette Motamed), the show’s star, and a “female ballet dancer.” dancer’ with whom Mike actually dances in front of the audience.
So why couldn’t Tatum have a dance scene on stage with Hayek, who is a very good mover after all? It’s mind-boggling, and the dramatic tension and focus disappears with the elaborate final dance scene. But it’s nice to see Tatum back: a natural performer with great physical grace and (underused) comedic style.
• Magic Mike’s Last Dance will be released on February 9 in Australia and February 10 in the US and UK.