Parents' Guide to

The Last Thing He Wanted

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Messy book-based political thriller has mature content.

Movie R 2020 115 minutes
The Last Thing He Wanted Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

Avoid this incoherent movie

The plot was almost incomprehensible and improbable. Anna Hathaway gave a compelling performance as a confused lost individual but the movie was so incoherent we don’t learn any of the motivations behind the action. Avoid.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

A surprisingly messy offering from the talented director of Mudbound, Dee Rees, this movie fails in almost every way possible. It wouldn't be an overstatement to call The Last Thing He Wanted a disaster in terms of comprehensibility, narrative drive, dramatic arc, and the simple cinematic goal of taking an audience from point A to point B in a coherent and artful way. Given Rees' demonstrated talent, one is left to wonder what factors could've led to such a disjointed result.

Engagement with the material hinges on audience understanding of a few key elements that the script ignores, including what was going on in Nicaragua in the 1980s. A few words could have illuminated the supposed American plot to stop a feared spread of Communism throughout the region. In what feels as abrupt as a jump cut, we move from a scene in which two people who barely know each other are talking, to a scene in which they are in bed together post-sex, making references to another person we've never heard of, as if we should know who that person is. Worst of all, it's impossible for actors to convincingly play characters whose motives keep changing, if they have any in the first place. Things are suddenly revealed, but we're never clear on what those new revelations mean. At film's close, the theme song from an early '60s TV show about a hired gun plays. In all, this movie feels like someone dropped an explosive in the editing room and Rees and company had to clean up as best they could.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: February 27, 2020
  • On DVD or streaming: February 21, 2020
  • Cast: Anne Hathaway, Willem Dafoe, Ben Affleck, Toby Jones, Edi Gathegi
  • Director: Dee Rees
  • Inclusion Information: Queer directors, Black directors, Black actors
  • Studio: Netflix
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 115 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: for language, some violence, disturbing images and brief nudity
  • Last updated: February 18, 2023

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