Channing Tatum returns as Mike Lane, a legendary exotic dancer with high aspirations for his life in Magic Mike's Last Dance. Like the previous two entries, Steven Soderbergh directs Reid Carolin's story. And like the others, they've created a tale with deeper layers than just the surface thrills, skillfully bringing closure to the trilogy.
Mike's retail business creating custom-made furniture has folded, another victim of the global pandemic. He's back to working odd jobs to make ends meet. But during a turn as a bartender, one of the ladies at the party recognizes him from a previous encounter and points the wealthy hostess, Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek), his way. After a high-priced dance and a night of steamy romance, Max convinces Mike to accompany her to London without telling him what he will do there. He soon discovers that she wants him to transform a stuffy old play into a modern masterpiece in a way that only he can.
Magic Mike shouldn't work, and the sequels should work even less, and yet somehow, they do. The concept should have limited appeal, yet Carolin provides natural human elements to all his characters. They have a very everyman appeal, as they suffer and succeed just like everyone else. Soderbergh grinds this down to a level where we watch friends go about their daily lives. He's aware that we don't always speak perfectly and makes sure the characters don't, either. Tatum gets this, and while his dancing is superb, he's genuinely excellent at playing a guy just trying to get by. Hayak's performance adds, perhaps for the first time, a female lead with some substance to her, giving something to the ending that the other films lacked. There are also some interesting people in the cast that Max and Mike recruit. Spectacular dancers portray them, but unfortunately, these characters don't get any development. Even a little background during breaks in rehearsals for the big finale would have made the film more compelling. Instead, we get a recruitment montage, some talented dancing, but not much else. One thing that sets this film apart from the others is the feeling of well-developed artistry in the dance sequences. They've evolved from the standard bump-and-grind into a masterpiece of modern dance. The dancers, many of them having started as street performers, move in ways that are breathtaking to watch. And through the changes made to the play, the desires and empowerment of women are told in a bold and, at times, seductive way.
Magic Mike's Last Dance isn't an intellectual film. Still, it is highly entertaining, light fun, and directed towards a more balanced audience than the others. It doesn't tell the same kind of story the first two films do, nor does it end in the same way. Instead, it turns all three into a complete story arc of Mike Lane with a sexy yet satisfying swan song.