Magic Mike's Last Dance Review: Channing Tatum's Grand Trilogy Finale Goes Out With Some Smooth Moves

This third and final entry has a unique spark that sets it apart.

Channing Tatum serves drinks with a well-dressed smile in Magic Mike's Last Dance.
(Image: © Warner Bros.)

It’s the trilogy no one would have expected. Through three movies and a little over a decade of dancing, the Magic Mike series has become a key calling card for star Channing Tatum, first adding big buzz to his career back in 2012. With each of the previous films it felt like there couldn’t be another story to tell, but Tatum and series writer Reid Carolin found an angle that set its protagonist on a new adventure.

With its third and potentially final installment, Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike’s Last Dance, we now have a crucial trilogy capstone – a place where some franchises go to die. Should this be the final fling, however, it'll be a rest well earned for the man who pony'd up through it all. 

Magic Mike's Last Dance

Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek in Magic Mike's Last Dance.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Release Date: February 10, 2023
Directed By:
 Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Reid Carolin
Starring: Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek Pinault, Ayub Khan Din, Jemelia George, Juliette Motamed and Vicki Pepperdine
Rating: R for "Sexual Material and Language"

Set years after the events of Magic Mike XXL, which saw Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) reunite with his boys, the film finds the stripper-turned-furniture entrepreneur in a low place, having lost his business during the pandemic. We don’t see Mike down on his luck for long though, as Magic Mike’s Last Dance sees him lucking into a new job opportunity rather quickly. 

All it takes is one dance with Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault), a creative and wealthy divorcee, to inspire this new pair to put on one hell of a show for the London stage.

Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault’s chemistry is the star of Magic Mike’s Last Dance.

If your decision whether or not to see Magic Mike’s Last Dance is based solely on the chemistry between Channing Tatum and Salma Hayek Pinault, your ticket should be considered bought. The story of Mike and Maxandra’s courtship is the most interesting new hurdle for the series to explore, as previous entries didn’t put too much of an emphasis on the people Channing Tatum was supposedly romancing. One of the improvements that puts this chapter above its predecessors, it’s a vital part of all the other changes that come with the story.

Steven Soderbergh’s return to the series after skipping the helming duties for 2015’s Magic Mike XXL couldn’t have come at a better time. Shifting the scenery to London would be an irresistible lure to go a big bigger on the visuals, as Mike’s transatlantic voyage opens up a lot of possibilities. Magic Mike’s Last Dance doesn’t get too distracted with that possibility, instead using the new setting as an appropriate source of humor in certain moments. Just as he's shown in his work with Ocean's 12, the director can enjoy sending his characters to new surroundings, while not becoming too enamored to be distracted from the story at hand. An inspired dance scene on a a double decker bus is the best example of keeping the British end up, without tipping the film’s hat too much. Using aspects such as this to establish the setting, Soderbergh's actors are allowed to shine while showing off some of the local color.

Don’t be fooled, there’s still plenty of chiseled men taking off shirts while dancing to Ginuwine’s “Pony.” The new cast that Magic Mike’s Last Dance assembles for that task is no disappointment, and the dances that result are properly electrifying. But beyond what's expected lies the greatest strength of this threequel’s plot: a very introspective Mike, who’s trying to figure out what he really wants in life.

Departing from the typical formula, this Magic Mike story is the most mature and romantic entry.

The life of Mike Lane is taken much more seriously in Magic Mike’s Last Dance. In his third round of trying to figure out life, Channing Tatum’s semi-autobiographical avatar isn’t dancing or taking his shirt off as much as he used to in the past. Instead, we’re shown the more creative side that Mike has always nurtured through stuff like his furniture work, fused together with his obvious dance skills. 

Another welcome departure from formula is the increased participation of female characters throughout Magic Mike’s grand finale. Salma Hayek Pinault’s Maxandra is a spirited woman who’s trying to shake things up in her life, but that quest doesn’t depend on her romantic feelings with Mike. Whatever’s developing between the two figures isn’t the point of the journey taken in Magic Mike’s Last Dance, but rather a note that sweetens the deal. 

The play is absolutely the thing for these lovers, which offers a great amount of action that takes place outside of their flirting. Rehearsals, rewrites, and all of the obstacles that come with putting on a show rear their head in quick succession, keeping everyone on their toes in the process. Offering so much more than just a meet-cute that leads to a stage show that'd fall into the background of any other rom-com, the plot swaps those mechanics to let the dancing do most of the talking. 

There’s still time for love in Magic Mike’s Last Dance, but it’s through a romance that’s the most mature and thought out in the trilogy. Rather than make their coupling the main thrust of the story, their love is allowed to blossom as a side effect of Mike and Maxandra's work in the theater.

Credit also has to be given to the performances of Jemelia George and Juliette Motamed. George’s role as Maxandra’s adopted daughter and Motamed’s part as the actor who becomes the emcee of the show both add more strong female characters to flesh out this particular world. George in particular gets to steal some moments with humor and rapport with Channing Tatum, showing that Mike Lane knows how to handle kids with as much respect as he does his audience.

Still sexy, but with a little more introspection in the works, Mike Lane’s last dance is the best of the trilogy.

Selling Magic Mike’s Last Dance on the more titillating aspects only shows half of the picture, as Maxandra’s quest to tell a story that reflects everything she sees wrong with romance is as insightful as it is entertaining. It also pairs brilliantly with Mike’s skill set, as he and his friends have always been about making women feel good by using all the right moves. Big swings are taken throughout, but they are in line with the spirit of the character that brought us to the party.

What we end up getting out of the potentially final chapter is a movie that earns its ending, while at the same time leaving the crowd wanting more. Part of that may be because, like all Magic Mike movies, this last dance seems to end just moments shy of a proper conclusion. Even that caveat doesn’t seem like a gamebreaker, as it fits with tradition and merely welcomes loyal viewers back warmly to the Magic Mike experience.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance is all about keeping things fresh, while honoring those events from Mike Lane’s past that got him to where he is today. The reasons for bringing him back lead to equally compelling events, and it all culminates in a finale that proves moving this movie to a theatrical release was the best decision. It may not change the routine too much, but this story has the right steps to say a proper goodbye to the magic of Mike.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.