Mike (Channing Tatum) has been out of the stripper lifestyle for three years, and while his furniture job is doing well it’s not exactly flourishing. Add that to the fact that he is having some personal problems and it doesn’t take Tarzan (Kevin Nash) and Richie (Joe Manganiello) much to convince him to join them once again for their last hurrah.
It seems like Dallas has left the group for good and now the boys have decided that they will go out with a bang at a stripper convention. But not all are pleased to see Mike return, and some are downright insulted that he wants to ‘freshen up’ their routine for the last performance. With not everything going right though Mike soon finds himself on a road trip that sees him become attracted to Zoe (Amber Heard) while also having to come face to face with a ghost from his past, the powerful but seductive, Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith).
When the first Magic Mike film was announced way back in 2012 a fear (and much laughter) spread across the film loving world. Channing Tatum was starring in a movie about male strippers, it seemed like it would end up being a storyless excuse to get some male flesh on the screen and would end up being one of the worst films of the year. Yet it proved to be something very different as director Steven Soderbergh made it a gritty film exploring the sex industry and the personal make-up of those involved in it. Now comes Magic Mike XXL the sequel which has a lot less fear revolving around it, but sadly if you are expecting a film like the original you are going to be sorely disappointed because this film has everything wrong with it that people were expecting could have gone wrong with the first film.
Really alarm bells should have been ringing before walking into the cinema. No Steven Soderbergh in charge this time round, instead he acts as cinematographer while Gregory Jacobs (a man with two B-Grade movies on his directional resume), and then the news that neither Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn or Alex Pettyfer were returning either. Then just to add insult to injury Aussie star-on-the-rise Margot Robbie pulled out of her role before shooting began. So why was there such an A-List avoidance of the sequel, because obviously those stars picked up the script and read it.
To be blunt Magic Mike XXL is simply a bunch of music videos with male grinding joined together by a flimsy bus trip that tries in vain to make it seem like the screenwriter didn’t just write lines like “Mike takes his clothes while women throw cash at him.” The screenplay here is lame at best and it seems that both director and screenwriter knew that and instead just tried to do overlong scenes of dialogue in the near-drowning bid to try and give this film some artistic credibility. But the scenes are so long they become boring, the characters so under-developed that become disinteresting while the lack of any sexual chemistry between Mike and his supposed love interest Zoe means the film just fizzles out with no resistance.
In fact the lack of character development in this film is frightening. Screenwriter Reid Carolin (who did funnily enough write the original film) sets up all these interesting little titbits about the various characters but then never fully cashes in on them. I mean come on, a stripper who wants to be a singer, the moment of realization that Mike has danced with Tarzan and didn’t even know he was a Gulf War veteran, both plotlines are a goldmine for a screenwriter but here Carolin just seems to throw them up in casual conversation and then forgets about them.
The weak script here also dangerously lets down the cast. Recently people have been uttering lines like ‘hey maybe Channing Tatum can act’ well here his only worth seems to be to look pouty and take his top off. As a result Tatum comes across looking like a a dumb himbo who has nothing to offer Hollywood at all, it’s like he has flashed back in time and is once again the type of actor who is only hired for his good looks and not his acting ability. Still at least he comes off a little better than the female cast because sadly Amber Heard, Andie MacDowell and Elizabeth Banks are all wasted in their roles and you can only wonder why they agreed to do the film in the first place. The only actress that does get a meaty role is Jada Pinkett Smith whose character of Rome is interesting enough for her own film, especially considering once again the screenwriter here leaves us asking more questions about her than what are answered.
Aside from its soundtrack Magic Mike XXL is a complete let down. Gone are the edginess and the witty script that made the first film so different and instead we are left with a film void of much storyline and just held together by a few dance sequences that aren’t even as impressive as what you would get in a Step Up movie. Avoid, especially if you loved the first one.
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Starring: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith
Running Time: 115 minutes
Release Date: 3rd July 2015