The Little Things (Crime, Thriller) (2021)
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: John Lee Hancock
Stars: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Michael Hyatt
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Some years ago, Deputy Joe ‘’Deke’’ Deacon (Denzel Washington) was one of the most reputable officers in Los Angeles. That was until an unexplained incident took place, and his top brass decided it would be better for him to serve for the county office in Kern. After spending several years there, recovering from the mental trauma he sustained, his leading officer sends him on a simple evidence gathering assignment in LA. This task leads him into a rabbit hole chasing a serial killer that has been terrorizing Kern county as well.
Harkening back to films like ‘’Se7en’’ and ‘’Zodiac’’ John Lee Hancock attempts to reinvigorate a sub-genre that hasn’t seen much light lately. While he’s certainly got the right protagonist for the job in Denzel Washington, who played in several crime thrillers back in the day such as ‘’The Bone Collector’’, ‘’Training Day’’ and ‘’Man on Fire’’, it remains to be seen if everything plays well together. As supporting him are Rami Malek (‘’Mr. Robot’’ and ‘’Bohemian Rhapsody’’) and Jared Leto (‘’Suicide Squad’’ and ‘’Blade Runner 2049’’).
As we’re met with an opening scene laughably reminiscent of the ‘’Safety/Death Sign’’ scene from ‘’Scary Movie’’, we know straight away what is to be expected, bar the comedic horror angle of the aforementioned film. When John ‘’Deke’’ Deacon is introduced, despite not knowing much before his brief jaunt to Los Angeles, we soon find out the history he has there with more to be explained throughout ‘’The Little Things’’. Despite only needing to be there for a moment, his old chief and ex-colleagues all try and catch up with him since it’s been so long and even the newest officer, Jim Baxter (Rami Malek). Who had been filling his shoes grows interested in the seemingly washed-up deputy and what he can learn from him.
Like similar films, the characters don’t lead the story; in fact, they’re led on by the serial killer in town, leaving a trail of bodies with a series of clues. Making the characters played by Washington and Malek not anything more than decent. Their great acting is underserved by a mediocre plot sadly filled with the clichés of a sub-genre that seems to have lost its spark. Having spent enough time with our newly formed duo, the main suspect comes into view: Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), who comes off as a more subdued version of ‘’The Joker’’ in ‘’Suicide Squad’’. introducing a feeling of the main characters being in differing frames, or better still playing in different movies altogether. Their roles have some alignment, after all, but their performances never really gel. On their own, I’d assuredly say Washington, Malek, and Leto have all the acting chops along with plenty of experience but together in this film; it just doesn’t quite fit.
At certain moments ‘’The Little Things’’ seems to be on the brink of that breakthrough moment where all the pieces do start fitting together and everything you thought to know before is intensified. Still, unlike in David Fincher’s films, it just never truly happens; it never pushes past that boundary and remains somewhat stagnant.
With a film such as ‘’The Highwaymen,’’ John Lee Hancock created something highly regarded by a large majority of people. Yet in this instance, he’s unable to make anything other than a desperate cry to a genre that might not be as interesting as it was in the ’90s or even early ’00s and without any heart or soul.
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It’s the little things that John Lee Hancock doesn’t quite grasp.