Giving a voice to women in the new film has been a talking point for Tatum. And it’s a neat reversal from the usual gender roles that Maxandra has the money and the power. Too bad they didn’t give Hayek Pinault a character along with a string of feminist pronouncements. Maxandra says more than once – in case we missed the point? – that Mike’s lap dance reminded her who she really is. And she wonders why Isabel in the play has to choose between a loveless marriage for money and being a social outcast. Why can’t a woman be free? Those are good ideas to live by but horrible as movie dialogue. And while the story teases a connection between Maxandra and Mike, there is no chemistry between the actors after the first dance.
Tatum is as charismatic as ever, and the script gives him a few flashes of wit. Rehearsing the dancers, he tells them to prepare for “a zombie apocalypse of repressed desire” from the audience. But the goofiness that was part of Mike’s appeal is gone.
Magic Mike XXL coasted on the charm of the original, with a different director. But along with Reid Carolin, who wrote all three instalments, Soderbergh returns to direct Last Dance. His usual crisp style and pace only occasionally emerge here. There are uncharacteristically flabby touches, including a montage of dancers auditioning intercut with shots of Maxandra and Mike scouting street performers and looking like they’re in some clichéd London travel show. When Mike leads his rehearsals, Soderbergh’s camera swirls around a lap dance in a visceral, cinematic way. When we see the final live show, though, we have no sense of why it might be dynamic on a stage.
The theme of wealth and power is dropped for long stretches only to surface at the end with the trite idea that money doesn’t matter. Really? After all that? This tepid film proves that Tatum still has great moves, but that even Mike, magical though he was, can’t dance forever.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance is released worldwide from 10 February.
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