Channing Tatum’s 10 best performances – ranked!

10. She’s the Man (2006)

In 2006, Channing Tatum broke out as a body-popping bad boy in the street dance movie Step Up, an ideal showcase for the limber skills he had honed while working as a stripper. But the same year this goofy boarding-school comedy – a loose adaptation of Twelfth Night, with Amanda Bynes disguised as a dude – helped to cement his future brand. As jacked soccer jock Duke, you might assume Tatum would be a sexist lug. Instead, he stands out as a sensitive confidant who can also land a serious scissor-kick.

9. Logan Lucky (2017)

Alabama-born, Florida-raised Tatum can play an authentic redneck when required, and there is a lot of southern-fried flavour to this North Carolina-set heist comedy directed by his Magic Mike collaborator, Steven Soderbergh. Tatum’s laid-off construction worker cooks up an audacious plan to rip off a Nascar race with the help of his brother (Adam Driver) and an oddball safecracker (Daniel Craig). Craig’s proto-Benoit Blanc/Foghorn Leghorn performance got the headlines, but Tatum sturdily carries the film.

8. The Book of Life (2014)

Tatum is the voice of beefy braggart Joaquin in the animated tale The Book of Life.
Tatum is the voice of beefy braggart Joaquin in the animated tale The Book of Life. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

From the yeti comedy Smallfoot to his recurring role as Superman in various Lego movies, voiceover work has been a reliable Tatum sideline. In this visually inventive Mexican fable he is a beefy braggart vying with Diego Luna for the love of Zoe Saldana. While audiences are supposed to side with Luna’s heartsick mariachi, it is hard not to be charmed by a hero so self-involved that he yells his own name as a battle cry: “JOAQUIN!”

7. Dog (2022)

With his strapping physique and buzzcut, Tatum has played soldiers throughout his screen career, from desertion drama Stop-Loss to the crappy GI Joe franchise. For his recent directorial debut, he cast himself as an injured staff sergeant so desperate to rejoin his old unit that he agrees to ferry a traumatised military dog cross-country for a comrade’s funeral. By the end of their journey, you want to adopt them both.

6. Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Long before the current rash of love letters to film-making, the Coen brothers delivered this dizzying Hollywood farce populated by a murderer’s row of talent including George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton (twice). As a Gene Kelly-style hoofer with a dark secret, Tatum gets a show-stopping musical number but is also the architect of one of the film’s biggest laughs (it involves a submarine, a lapdog and a bag of ransom cash).

5. Fighting (2009)

He looks great in a vest so it feels as if Tatum should be a natural action star. Yet somehow test balloons such as president-saving, shoot-em-up White House Down and sci-fi souffle Jupiter Ascending never seemed to connect with audiences. This early bare-knuckle effort – one of three collaborations with writer-director Dito Montiel – is scrappy enough to feel authentic, as Tatum roughhouses his way through the NYC fight scene under the nervy tutelage of Terrence Howard.

4. Foxcatcher (2014)

Steve Carell and his prosthetic conk got the Oscar attention but this 1980s-set true crime tale – revolving around creepy philanthropist John du Pont’s hands-on attempts to mould an Olympic wrestling squad – would never get off the ground were it not for Tatum’s burdened performance at the centre. As a desperate former champ looking for direction, Tatum holds his own in a chilly, upsetting psychodrama.

3. The Lost City (2022)

“How could I be embarrassed about something that makes people this happy?” muses hunky romance novel cover model Alan, AKA Dash (Tatum). Similarly this Romancing the Stone-style jungle adventure is a masterclass in giving people what they want. It steers hard into its star’s sleepy-eyed himbo brand and gets a lot of comedic mileage out of a neck pillow as the lovestruck Dash rushes to rescue widowed author Sandra Bullock from the clutches of Daniel Radcliffe’s diabolical billionaire.

2. 22 Jump Street (2014)

Tatum and his 21 Jump Street bro Jonah Hill reunite for this enjoyably daft action comedy follow-up which, in the typically meta style of Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, endlessly pokes fun at lazy sequels. If Tatum’s undercover cop, Jenko, struggled when infiltrating high school in the original, he is on much surer ground at college, bonding with dimbulb quarterback Zook (Wyatt Russell) and cracking open beer bottles with his biceps, eye, ear and (it is heavily implied) penis.

1. Magic Mike XXL (2015)

A stripper with a heart of gold and buns of steel, Magic Mike will always be Tatum’s signature role, not least because it is based on his own formative experiences in showbiz. For all the franchise’s horny razzle-dazzle, the first film now seems surprisingly downbeat, while the imminent threequel is a London-set victory lap that cedes much of the spotlight to Salma Hayek. The middle instalment – a shaggy US road trip with a likable gang of muscled hunks stuffed into a converted food truck – is a laid-back, low-stakes pleasure. Amid a stack of impressive dance scenes, watching wannabe furniture restorer Mike rediscovering his mojo in real time when Ginuwine’s sex jam Pony comes on his workshop radio is cinema at its slinkiest.

• Magic Mike’s Last Dance is released on 9 February in Australia and 10 February in the US and UK.