Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 16, 2023)
Horny soccer moms turned 2012’s Magic Mike into a hit. With a worldwide gross of $167 million off of a mere $7 million budget, it made a massive profit.
2015’s Magic Mike XXL did less well. Nonetheless, with its $117 million gross and its $15 million budget, it also ended up well in the black.
2023 brings a final installment to the “Magic Mike Trilogy” – and given its financial results, I can’t imagine anyone involved will feel tempted to make a fourth. 2023’s Magic Mike’s Last Dance cost $45 million but only nabbed $56 million worldwide, so it lost money in the end.
Former stripper “Magic” Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) attempted life as a businessman, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to close his furniture company. In need of money, he winds up as a bartender for a catering service.
Mike works an event hosted by wealthy socialite Maxandra “Max” Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault) and she becomes intrigued by him. She offers him $60,000 to accompany her to London in a role she initially declines to spell out, an offer Mikes accepts and deals with unforeseen ramifications.
Given the presence of Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh behind the camera for the 2012 Mike, it promised something better than the titillating premise implied. Soderbergh couldn’t deliver and the movie became a mediocre experience.
Soderbergh ceded the director’s chair to Gregory Jacobs for XXL with even weaker results. That one became a truly awful film with few redeeming qualities.
Last Dance brings back Soderbergh along with Reid Carolin, the screenwriter of the first film. This might promise a return to form for fans, though perhaps not for me given my lack of enthusiasm for the 2012 movie.
Alas, Last Dance shows no gas in the franchise’s tank. As talented as he may be, Soderbergh can’t find anything engaging to put on screen here.
Again, the first Mike lacked a whole lot to make it work as a film. With even less narrative ambition, XXL essentially packed in a lot of strip scenes but not much else.
Of the three, Dance features the least amount of muscular male skin. Though we occasionally get some of that sort of fare – mainly during the third act - the film doesn’t engage in basic titillation too often.
As someone not eager to ogle hunky dudes, that works for me. However, while the general absence of strip scenes might imply a more serious and plot-based movie, the end result fails to go anywhere.
Dance barely attempts an actual story. Mike and Max meet, sort of fall for each other, and then spend much of the film doing… not much of anything.
We get the impression Max and Mike will wind up together, but we never care if this happens. Hayek and Tatum display next to zero chemistry and fail to create an engaging couple.
In theory, the flick revolves around Mike and Max, but Dance delivers such a spotty tale that they can seem superfluous much of the time. Dance delivers an oddly unfocused piece that lacks coherence.
Or anything much to occupy the viewer’s attention. The flick sleepwalks from one forgettable sequence to another and can never find anything compelling.
Dance really should offer the story of Mike’s growth and development, but he just seems stuck in stasis. Though at a crossroads when the movie starts, he doesn’t manage to move ahead in any notable manner.
Honestly, Dance usually feels like an ode to the hotness of Tatum. The movie makes Mike out to be amazing guy but the character as depicted falls short and just leaves us with the impression we’re supposed to be way more impressed with Mike than we are.
Other than as a love letter to Tatum, I can’t figure out what anyone figured would come of Dance. It lacks an appealing story or characters and comes with a “narrative” that sputters and flails.
Even big fans of the series seem unlikely to take much from this misbegotten dud. I can’t figure out how someone as talented as Steven Soderbergh delivered such a pointless and awful movie, but he did.