“The Little Things” is a psychological thriller in which Denzel Washington walks through his role as Joe Deacon, a Deputy Sheriff called upon to help solve multiple murders of young women — possibly by a serial killer — in Los Angeles. “Deke” used to work in that jurisdiction, but since some incident there several years ago, he’s become persona non grata and has been on the job instead in a smaller county a hundred miles north.
In the murder investigation, Deacon is teamed with Detective Jim Baxter, played by a horribly miscast Rami Malek. While Washington can play authority figures all day long, the same is not true of Malek, who seems out of place talking tough while walking around in a dark suit. Moreover, the two characters have virtually no chemistry, almost as if Washington had said to Malek, “Let’s just get through this and take the paycheck, son.”
Deacon keeps telling Baxter, “it’s the little things that get you caught,“ and the same could be true of this movie’s faults. Aside from the indistinct storyline, the sound is muffled at times, and the resolution of the movie is entirely ludicrous. In fact, the last 15-20 minutes of the movie seem like they were tacked on to try to find some denouement to a plot going nowhere.
The alleged villain is portrayed by Jared Leto, who plays every scene in a creepy, even tone. Worse, director/writer John Lee Hancock gives him the name Albert Sparma, and forgets to include any reasons why Deacon and Baxter suspect him — other than he’s a long-haired weirdo. Yet they’re willing to break the law by gaining illegal access to Sparma’s apartment as well as covering up their own crimes. “The Little Things” wants to be some combination of “Seven” and “The Silence Of The Lambs,” but falls short at every turn.
Hancock was responsible for the treacly “The Blind Side” and “Saving Mr. Banks.” Though those were hits, he’s lucky “The Little Things” is getting exposure on HBO Max, because if it only played in theaters, it would be a bomb — even with Denzel’s name above the title.
I’m giving it a 3 out of 10 and saving a spot for it on my Worst Movies Of 2021 list.
Now streaming on HBO Max.