The Little Things film review (2021)

Although often predictable and familiar, The Little Things offers an incredible display of acting from the three main stars, who aid in delivering a tense watch from the very start. The end result left a bit to be desired, however.

It doesn’t matter what film it is. Every time a new Denzel Washington movie is released, I watch it. Plain and simple. He’s one of the most gifted performers in the history of film and one actor I hold at a very high standard; a standard he rarely breaks or comes down from. He’s the leading man in The Little Things, which is his first on-screen role since 2018’s The Equalizer 2, and although he’s fantastic, the other great performances from Rami Malek and Jared Leto only help elevate his even more. All in all, the trio are ultimately why you want to see this movie.

Directed by John Lee Hancock, The Little Things tells the story of two police officers, Joe Deacon (Washington) and Jim Baxter (Malek), who are searching for a serial a killer after a number of murders. They then encounter a very unique and quite unsettling man, Albert Sparma (Leto), who eventually becomes the main suspect in their hunt to catch the killer.

From the start, at least for me, I was intrigued by how the film draws you in. The stage is immediately set by introducing the mystery which eventually becomes the main plot to follow. You are then introduced to Deacon, who at first seems like an ordinary cop, but as his journey continues, you just know there’s more to him than that, with a big part of who he is being a mystery.

This becomes even more evident with his interactions with former colleagues. Most are incredibly welcoming when he reunites with them, but at the same time, there are those who are a bit reserved around him. Overall, there’s a profound respect for who Deacon is and the things he has done. But, again, as a viewer, you can’t quite grasp what he’s done and why certain people act differently around him. I feel Denzel has always done a phenomenal job creating characters who are relatable. But, at the same time, he also creates a persona which is equally mysterious. That’s on display in The Little Things, similar to other characters from his past films, like Robert McCall in The Equalizer series. There’s more to him than meets the eye.

His character becomes even more interesting when he crosses paths with Baxter. Malek has proven to be one of the most talented stars in Hollywood. He has an Oscar to show for it and I feel he’s only getting started in what is a very fruitful career ahead of him. Baxter comes off as a very thorough, persistent, and intelligent detective. However, he’s also very green and has plenty to learn. You’re aware of this once he meets Deacon, who’s methods are far more seasoned and sees things from a different viewpoint than most, which sometimes makes a big difference when solving the cases. Their chemistry is great together.

It all comes together when Sparma joins the gray, though. Leto always plays the weird characters for some reason. He’s known to be an extreme method actor, so he really gets lost in these roles and basically forgets himself. This is more of what I was expecting his iteration of Joker to be; unsettling, cringe-worthy, and chaotic. Then again, that’s more of a writing and usage issue rather than a talent issue. Regardless, he offers a very convincing turn here and really makes you think about what role he plays in this whole thing.

As for the plot of the movie, I enjoyed it, but I can’t say I wasn’t expecting a bit more. At times, you’re on the edge of your seat since there are some very well-done sequences and scenes here. However, many of the outcomes are predictable and things we have seen before. It’s okay to be inspired from films of the past, but I feel you should reinvent those ideas in order to set your self apart. I’m not sure The Little Things does that, at least when it matters most. The conclusion also leaves you wanting more. There’s a certain plot detail here that doesn’t really fit, at least in my opinion, and doesn’t really change anything that happens in the movie. Although it’s fulfilling for one specific character, I don’t see how it benefits the other. Maybe it’s just me, though.

In the end, this is a film you’ll be thinking about long after watching it. It’s open for interpretation, like many other neo-noir psychological thrillers. There’s closure, just not the closure I was hoping for or even expecting, for that matter. But, I can’t say the film doesn’t work as a whole. It’s entertaining, will keep you guessing about what’s going to happen next, and the performances are what carry this film.

Score: B-

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