Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a departure from the previous films. While it still offers sexy, astoundingly choreographed dance numbers along with the larger-than-life charisma of Channing Tatum, the cohesiveness and comradery of the first two installments is missing. The message is confusing and in the effort to be too many things, none of it really works.
Mike Lane (Tatum) has lost his furniture business due to the Covid pandemic and is bartending to make ends meet. While working at catered charity event, he is recognized from his past career of stripping. The host of the party, Maxandra “Max” Mendoza (Selma Hayek Pinault), asks to speak with him afterwards, offering a large sum of money for a lap dance. He acquiesces, resulting in an erotic night of passion. While in bed together, Max talks Mike into going to London with her for a month. Upon arrival, Mike learns her real motives: to choreograph a production in the theater she received in her divorce settlement. Once they find the dancers and figure out the story, they face numerous hurdles as they make their way to opening night including battling themselves.
One of the main messages of this chapter is female empowerment. Max is looking to illustrate that women should not have to choose between the rich jerk and the poor, nice guy but the result is exactly that. The romance between Max and Mike lacks chemistry and believability. Mike takes the brunt of Max’s frustrations and unhappiness. Why he would accept her treatment after such a short romance is rather ridiculous.
The film also brings in Max’s daughter Zadie (Jemilia George), attempting some kind of resolution to the conflicts of their relationship. Zadie also serves as the narrator with quips intended to heighten the themes being expressed as the story progresses. George’s skills are underutilized overall and feels like an afterthought. Another throwaway character is Max’s butler of sorts, Victor (Ayub Khan Din), who is intended for comic relief or the glue meant to keep everyone together. Each branch could have been successful if given more attention but in trying to balance all of these, it fails.
The final show is impressive, providing the opportunity for all of the dancers to showcase their athletic abilities. However, the audience has no connection to them. In the prior films, the viewer not only had a connection to Mike but to the other dancers as well and felt their strong bonds with one another. Here, they are just a collection of paid dancers.
There are few extras provided in the Blu-ray release. “Magic Mike’s New Moves Featurette” is a behind the scenes look at the making of the film including interviews with the choreographers and cast. Interestingly the dancers were selected from the various versions of the Magic Mike live shows. There is also one extended dance sequence.
While the previous films in the Magic Mike franchise offered silly romps meant to be enjoyed with friends while drinking champagne, experiencing the joy of other women in the audience jumping up and dancing along, this redesign attempts to be more. One quote from Mike to the dancers as they are rehearsing says it all about what the prior movies were about: “Be prepared for the zombie apocalypse of repressed desire”. They offered an outlet. If you go into Last Dance with different expectations, you will be less disappointed.