"The Last Thing He Wanted" is a twisty, mosaic-like thriller set in the early days of the Iran-Contra affair. Despite its cluttered narrative, the film, scripted by director Dee Rees ("Pariah," "Mudbound") and Marco Villalobos from Joan Didion's 1996 novel, proves a tense, absorbing tale of an innocent woman upended by the worst kind of political duplicity.
Anne Hathaway digs into her meaty role as Elena, an intrepid, map-hopping reporter for the Atlantic Post (read: Washington Post), who's dubiously taken off her investigation of an El Salvador massacre, one with potential U.S. ties, and reassigned to cover Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign.
Meantime, Elena's negligent father (Willem Dafoe), a shifty guy in poor health, embroils her in a weapons smuggling scheme that resonates for Elena in a vortex of unexpected ways. She's soon dodging danger in Florida, Costa Rica and, finally, Antigua, where she must lay low on the orders of a shadowy U.S. official (Ben Affleck, underwhelming). But is the deck too irrevocably stacked against her?
There's some overreach and muddle here — you wouldn't want a pop quiz on the plot — but "Last Thing" remains an intriguing, visually diverting piece, well shot by Bobby Bukowski. Rosie Perez, Toby Jones and Edi Gathegi provide strong support.
This article is written by Gary Goldstein from The Los Angeles Times and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.