ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

"The Last Thing He Wanted" Movie Review

Updated on February 26, 2020
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life, he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

The Last Thing He Wanted
The Last Thing He Wanted | Source

Though I've never read Joan Didion's 1996 novel, it's a safe bet that the entirely nonsensical, overly convoluted film adaptation of The Last Thing He Wanted has taken the best-selling novel, lit it on fire and chucked it into a trash can. It’s stunning, in fact, how bad this thing is. Just one week after the arrival a film I thought would coast through 2020 as the worst of the year, we get one so devoid of anything positive (despite a roster of A-list talent) that Fantasy Island begins to earn credit for at least not taking itself too seriously.

The failure of The Last Thing He Wanted begins with director Dee Rees (who dazzled in 2017 with the supremely moving Mudbound). Near as I can tell, Last Thing is a serious effort. Having co-written the script (with first-timer Marco Villalobos), Rees certainly seems invested in the material. There aren’t any winks or nods or satire at work here—just a serious director getting serious actors to give us a serious movie. Unfortunately, what they’re working with doesn’t allow it.

Hathaway leads the way as Elena McMahon, a reporter for the Atlantic Post (Didion called it what it is—The Washington Post—in her book) in the early 1980s investigating the United States government’s covert dealings with the Contras in Central America. When she gets too nosy, her assignment gets yanked from her, and she’s sent out on the Reagan re-election trail. Meanwhile, her failing-health father Dick (Willem Dafoe) is neck-deep in being a horrible dad while simultaneously running a guns-for-drugs scheme in the tropics. And did I mention Ben Affleck as Treat Morrison, a shady (or maybe not) mid-level government executive who floats in and out of the movie like a sideburned feather on a sinister breeze? Oh, and Elena has a daughter away at boarding school, who figures into the story not at all.

When Dick falls ill, Elena takes it upon herself (for reasons known only to her) to follow through on her dad’s “one last job”—running a shipping container full of assault rifles and landmines to Costa Rica in exchange for suitcases full of cash. Naturally, it blows up in her face (literally… and dog lovers are urged to stay WAY the heck away), which sets her off on a hair-raising (though not really) mission to find the money and get back home.

I can only surmise that the added luxury of the written word helps The Last Thing He Wanted make sense on paper, because at the cineplex there’s no hint whatsoever that there’s a coherent story in play. One character drifts in and out with barely any notice only to be revealed as a Keyser Söze-like major twist at the end (at least I think he does—it’s still not clear). A jarring sex scene pops up so randomly that you’ll think it’s a dream sequence or flashback or both. (It’s not.) And Hathaway delivers each and every one of her lines (including her entirely incoherent voice-over narration) with enough gravitas to choke a cow.

I was proven wrong last year (thanks, Cats!) when I jumped the gun and declared Serenity the worst of 2019 far too early, so I’m hesitant to make the same mistake twice… but, my heavens, The Last Thing He Wanted is unquestionably the last thing anyone would want in a movie. Ever.


0/5 stars

'The Last Thing He Wanted' trailer


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)