MOVIE REVIEW: “The Little Things” stars Denzel Washington (The Book of Eli, The Equalizer ), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Mr. Robot [TV series]), Jared Leto (Suicide Squad, Blade Runner 2049), Chris Bauer (The Wire [TV series], True Blood [TV series]), Michael Hyatt (Nightcrawler, Fame ), Terry Kinney (Billions [TV series], Oz [TV series]), Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation [TV series], Battle of the Sexes), Isabel Arraiza (Pearson [TV series], The Oath [TV series]), Joris Jarsky (The Incredible Hulk , Saw V), Glenn Morshower (The Resident [TV series], Transformers: Dark of the Moon), and Sofia Vassilieva (My Sister’s Keeper, Medium [TV series]). It is written and directed by John Lee Hancock (The Founder, Saving Mr. Banks).
Deputy Sheriff Joe Deacon (Washington) is sent to Los Angeles for an easy in-and-out assignment, only to stay when a serial killer from his past resurfaces.
These days, I just need to give up on watching films after 10 p.m. After working twelve hour shifts every day of the week for the past two months, my ability to be a night owl has been stripped from me. Yet I don’t seem to learn from my mistakes, and decided to see Hancock’s latest release, “The Little Things” late into the night, to disastrous results. Having slipped in and out of consciousness from the halfway point and into the third act, I debated whether to review this feature. But, what the hay!
My draw to “The Little Things” was simply that it’s a new feature. One of the first in Warner Bros’ push to bring their new releases to HBO Max’s service, “The Little Things” presented itself as a grimy 90’s detective piece with three star players: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto. What a combo. I enjoy all these guys, so they got me there. Now it was all a matter of if the story could stand on its own.
For the most part, this movie works as your standard cop drama. The investigation holds some interest, the lead detective has a dark past, and the ending comes with a twist. Hancock sought to resurrect the detective dramas of old (the 90’s), which came with little to no effort; the script was originally written by him in 1992 and did not see the light of day until recently. So, for those wondering what’s the importance of this story being set in 1990… it’s because the script was written around the same time. And admittedly, it is better for it. Having a limitation of technology makes for a more thrilling investigation, and while the story doesn’t really stand out, at least it has a specific look and feel to it.
Of course, that’s the key phrase: “the story doesn’t really stand out.” While I was slipping in and out of sleep throughout some of the feature, I will say that there wasn’t much that I needed to stay awake for. The acting was solid, with all three leads turning in performances that worked for their roles. Sure, they’re playing to what they usually do (Malek was kind of dull in this one though), but it’s their strength. Thomas Newman gave a great score and the cinematography was really good. But at the end of the day, the story just didn’t grip me enough. I didn’t find myself too attached to the characters or situation because I really didn’t care to. That’s not to say that it was awful; the pacing worked and the techincal parts that hoisted it up were solid. Basically, there were elements of the story that didn’t click, leaving me with some strong moments and aspects, but not an astute whole product.
The theme that this movie conjurs up is how obsession can lead to destruction. It’s good, and the ending is one that you would not necessarily espect. Will you be satisfied by it? That’s a different story. The internet seems to be split, most people saying the film is pointless, others saying it works. I would be lying if I were to say I wasn’t disappointed, because of what is set up at the beginning (seeing the serial killer try to do his thing) and how the narrative seems to lean into things that would suggest a different outcome. But, good on Hancock for at least taking the road less traveled (I guess). By the end of “Little Things,” you’ve got a feature that is fairly interesting but also forgettable. While I commend the filmmakers for crafting something that I’m intrigued to see play out, everything seems to fizzle by the third act (where the story then takes a new shape). All in all, it’s not something I would highly recommend, but if you are looking for new releases in February, it doesn’t hurt to try it. FINAL SCORE: 72%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: