Title – The Little Things (2021)
Director – John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side)
Cast – Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Chris Bauer
Plot – Grizzled detective turned small town deputy Joe “Deke” Deacon (Washington) finds himself back in LA and teaming up with upstart detective Jim Baxter (Malek) to hunt down a serial killer who has links to a traumatic case in Deke’s past.
“It’s the little things that are important, Jimmy. It’s the little things that get you caught”
Review by Eddie on 19/02/2021
Just like the things it speaks about in its title and throughout its tale of Denzel Washington’s complicated ex-detective turned small town deputy Deke Deacon teaming up with Rami Malek’s up and coming LA detective Jim Baxter working together under the radar to track down a serial killer stalking the county, its the little things that hold John Lee Hancock’s previously delayed Se7en wannabe from being the film it might have been had all elements within lined up better.
Based on a script that was finalized way back in the early 90’s (and potentially the main reason why this film is set in the era), Hancock’s film may star three Oscar winning leads, be based upon a fairly intriguing central set-up and feature more mood than your average mid-tier thriller thanks to its night-time drenched façade and Thomas Newman’s moody (if sometimes out of place) score but this is the very definition of an “almost” film that remains watchable throughout, but frustrates in equal measure as we eagerly await the film to become the product it may’ve been.
There’s nerves early on that The Little Things may be victim of a generic offering that never gets to grip with becoming something more thanks to a opening segment straight out of the direct to video affairs that littered the era in which it was set but for a while as we follow Washington’s Deke to LA and get caught up in a serial case that brings him back to his previous involvement with some similar killings, everything appears to be on course for an effort worthy of the talent involved but thanks to some off the boil “little things” in the film like some shoddy editing (pay close attention to a scene set around a breakfast table or a drive down an LA freeway at night) and a miscast Malek as the confusing Baxter, the film struggles under the weight of its potential that is squandered rather than reached.
It’s not a horrible film by any stretch of the imagination, Washington is as solid as he always is and there’s fun to be had with Jared Leto’s prosthetic clad and scenery chewing murder suspect Albert Sparma but throughout the slowly paced film there’s a distinct lack of character development or stand out scenes that would’ve made the film really buzz, while a disappointing outcome to constant insights into Deke’s past feels underdone as does the films fairly horrible final act.
These type of thrillers often build to big crescendos that sometimes require the viewer to suspend a little bit of disbelief and give the film some room to Hollywoodize its outcomes but nothing about Hancock’s finale sits too well, even if the films insistence on not spoon feeding its viewers every little answer or detail about who has done what and why they have done it is a nice, against the grain component that gives this tale some weight for one too ponder once the credits have finished rolling.
Final Say –
A could’ve been film that never gets the most out of its set-up or its capable stars, The Little Things should have been a new genre must-see but as it stands is merely an adequate thriller with nice moments littered throughout an otherwise mismanaged feature.
3 watch batteries out of 5