BY: AMANDA GUARRAGI
The Last Thing He Wanted is a political thriller, which highlights the dangers of being a journalist and exposing those in power. Dee Rees and Mark Villalobos co-wrote the screenplay and adapted it from the novel, under the same name, which was written by Joan Didion. It’s a story that needed to be shared on the big screen, considering how journalists are treated in today’s society.
It begins with Elena McMahon, played by Anne Hathaway, in the middle of Central America. She witnesses the death of innocent children and women and in that moment, we hear her internal dialogue, questioning why these things happen. Where are these weapons coming from? Are they linked to something bigger? Is money the sole factor? Are people just pawns for the government and what are lives even worth? The moral compass of McMahon and her determination to uncover the truth eventually affects her job as a journalist.
The most important thing to note from this film, is the treatment of journalists, by the government, in any country. There is also the fact that some journalists, have the same outcome as McMahon, at the end of this film and it’s all because they want to uncover the truth. If journalists do not speak their truth AND speak for others who don’t have the same accessibility, then there would be no justice or any accountability for actions taken by any government. Journalists in the media are beyond important, especially when exposing corruption in any country.
Anne Hathaway played a fantastic journalist, I think that this was one of her best roles yet. She had the drive in her eyes for a good story and the delivery of her questions were impactful. She was constantly buzzing and had fiery energy throughout the film. She also had lovely chemistry with Willem Dafoe, who played her father, Dick McMahon. Dafoe was also wonderful in this and they played off each other nicely.
If you pay attention to the story, you can understand where Elena’s story begins and the reason why it ends the way it does. Even though the narrative is filled with many shocking twists, the underlining message is very simple. As I stated, journalists can go to deep in a story, get lost in it and then there are consequences.
Dee Rees and Mark Villalobos will take you on a crazy journey, about the government’s side deals and their involvement in gunrunning to Central America. It’s action packed and you may get lost at times because there are so many players in the mix but at the end of the film, everything makes sense. Elena’s father, Dick, is a gunrunner and because he got sick, he had to send Elena to finish the job that he started.
There are men in power, including Senators, which are apart of the operation. When they find out that Elena has been questioning their exports to Nicaragua, she automatically has a target on her back. Treat Morrison, who is played by Ben Affleck, is involved in these dealings and is told to keep an eye out.
The whole cast played each of their roles perfectly and when it came together at the end with all the big players, the payoff was definitely worth it. The film is a bit slow and messy at times but it manages to reel you back in, when new pieces of information come forward. The pace is steady and it will definitely grab your attention, if you respect the integrity of a journalist and the hardships they face.