The latest serial killer drama is brought to you by John Lee Hancock, who is known for writing and directing films like The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks, and The Founder. While these movies have been based around positive themes of aspirations and accomplishments, The Little Things is a dark neo-noir thriller that centers on ‘obsession’. Denzel Washington plays the lead role as Joe “Deke” Deacon, a deputy sheriff in Bakersfield, California, who travels to Los Angeles to pick up some evidence from the LAPD. While Deke does not have a great reputation among the LAPD officers, he strikes a camaraderie with a young detective named Jimmy Baxter (Rami Malek), even assisting him with an investigation to find a serial killer. Their prime suspect is the repairman Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), who leaves no stone unturned to taunt the policemen on the lack of evidence they hold against him. As the chase to hunt him down speeds up, little things from Deke’s past begin to haunt him, dragging Jimmy down the same dark route that he once took.
Going down the dark road of ‘obsession’
‘The Little Things’ tries its best at not being a typical cop drama, and both succeeds and stalls in that regard. We have two protagonists – both lawkeepers – who are far from perfect. Deke is dealing with the consequences of his troubled past that comes back to haunt him in flashbacks. We also get to see the breakdown of Jimmy who is initially more composed but his obsession with the killer leads him down the same dark road that ruined Deke’s career. This dark and dirty side of cops is on point with the recent ACAB mood, even for a movie that was written in the early 90s. On the other hand, some of the investigative sequences are too predictable and the shoddy police work makes you question either the movie’s screenplay or the LAPD’s efficiency. By the end, the hunt for the killer becomes all too hazy, leaving you with less-than-positive feels.
Denzel Washington stands out
A movie with three Oscar winners is bound to have great performances but it’s Denzel Washington who outshines the rest. Not his first time playing a cop (Training Day, Out of Time, Fallen), the actor brings his years of experience into the act, and perfects the image of a fallen cop. While Rami Malek‘s Jimmy is a direct contrast with his suave and composed appearance, the actor only gives his best act in the climax, when his obsession gets the best of him. For the rest of the movie, he is simply mumbling his dialogues in the same, familiar style he once did as Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot. Jared Leto, meanwhile, has perfected the art of playing “creepy” and does nothing we haven’t seen on screen before. The rest of the cast does not make much of an impact, especially the female characters, who have been sidelined as plot drivers.
Not a movie for the faint-hearted
The Little Things follows the chase of a serial killer who has a history of killing women. From blood splatters to bloody corpses, this movie has got all it takes to make your stomach churn. Do not watch it while eating or on a full belly. The gory crime scenes are not for the faint-hearted.
WATCH OR NOT:
If you are obsessed with serial killer dramas, The Little Things will become your next big obsession. Denzel Washington’s anguished performance and John Lee Hancock’s slick direction are other bonus points that will keep you hooked to the screen. Stream it on HBO Max or watch it on the big screen by booking tickets below.