Channing Tatum’s “Magic” fan character Mike Lane, stripper and sexily appealing recipient of the thirsty female gaze, returns again for this silly but hastily packaged and strangely anticlimactic triple series from director Steven Soderbergh and writer Reid Carolin.
As the US emerges from the covid pandemic, Mike is falling on hard times. He’s approaching his 40th birthday (but he looks good on it), a business he started failed, and now he works as a bartender. Yet as he humorously serves drinks at a swanky benefit gala in Miami, there’s a connection between him and socialite host Max Mendoza (Salma Hayek). An incredibly sexy Max hears from one of his guests, Kim, played by Caitlin Gerard, a veteran of the first 2012 Magic Mike movie, that Mike used to be a hot dancer, so Max asks him for a private show. Mike agrees to a sizzling quasi-sex scene, and Max, smitten with her, takes Mike to London with her to direct and choreograph an oiled-up male dance show at the big theater he’s gotten from her soon-to-be ex. -husband in divorce proceedings.
There’s some fun and some nice dance scenes along the way; Ayub Khan-Din is funny when Max’s likable valet Victor and Vicki Pepperdine play well as the repressed 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 peppered with a strange kind of eccentricity and contains the most baffling “In-between” gag I’ve ever seen: an interval of cod, placed almost randomly, with the word “In-between” over a cheesy picture of puppies, without comic impact. .
Plus, the whole movie has an improvised feel, almost as if Soderbergh only directed a few key scenes and left the rest to someone else: Mike-Max’s opening private dance, the two gazing at each other closely over dinner. , kissing in the back of a taxi afterwards. The other components, even the big choreographed sequences, feel a bit generic. And toward the end, the spotlight shifts disconcertingly away from Hayek and the all-important Mike-Max relationship to two other rather useless female characters: Hannah (Juliette Motamed), who is the star of the stage show, and a “ballet lady.” . dancer” with whom Mike dances in front of the audience.
So why couldn’t Tatum have had a climactic dance scene on stage with Hayek, who is, after all, very good at moving? It’s unnerving, and the dramatic tension and focus dissipates with the extended final dance scene. But it’s good to see Tatum back: a natural actor with wonderful physical grace and (underused) comedic flair.
• Magic Mike’s Last Dance opens February 9 in Australia and February 10 in the US and UK.