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The Little Things


It's a little thriller with big stars. Flawed but fun to watch if you don't ask too much.

The Little Things

“It's the little things that are important, Jimmy. It's the little things that get you caught.” Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington)

The Little Things wants to be a psychological thriller, and it is. Its only problem is it wants too badly to make Deke more world-weary than Morgan Freeman’s Somerset in Se7en and Jim (Rami Malek) more intense than callow Mills (Brad Pitt) from the same psychological who dun it. All are cops gone over the top in their search for a serial killer, the picture eluding and playing with their inadequacies. The big difference is in the experience of the directors and actors.

Albert Sparma (Jared Leto) may or may not be the killer detectives in The Little Things want to get out of professional pride and personal guilt. However, the cops are mainly moved to pursue Sparma because he has a habit of confessing to crimes he didn’t commit, where the cops have skeletons of their own.

The Little Things is best when Deke and Jim spar over the evidence, Deke having the requisite wisdom of age and Jim the energy of youthful righteousness. Although it’s not always clear where writer/director John Lee Handcock is going, he does capture the individually dangerous quirks and motives of the three leads. Each has been given a second chance with the danger of falling back into the grime of conscience and evil.

The atmosphere is dark noir and the ambition barely lacking; the characters do give a sense of directed outrage at crime.  Here is a world not dictated by women or love but rather a primordial revenge on behalf of women and a personal guilt evidenced in a mortal accident in Deke’s early career that dogs him to the present.

Although critics may wail at the derivative elements of this film, most specifically the influences of Se7en and another Fincher piece, Zodiac, the film has a celebrated buddying motif of older and younger cops anchored in Oscar-winning actors so temperamentally different that it seems as if the partner motif is done for the first time. Even Jared Leto, who has played a wacko now and then in his career, seems fresh here, restraining himself only slightly from his usual showboating.

Derivative as The Little Things may be, it is still worth a Dolby Theater matinee price as long as you’re with a long-time buddy who also appreciates the darkly eccentric crime show.

“Who says that bad guys don't return to the scene of the crime?” Detective Sergeant Rogers (Joris Jarsky)

Simultaneously in theaters and HBO Max.

The Little Things

Director: John Lee Hancock (The Highwaymen)

Screenplay: Hancock

Cast: Denzel Washington (Malcolm X), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)

Run Time: 2h 7m

Rating: R

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com


John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, is host of WCBE's programs It's Movie Time and Cinema Classics, and the podcasts Back Talk and Double Take. Contact him at johndesando52@gmail.com.