Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Premise: A rural county sheriff (Denzel Washington) becomes embroiled in a Los Angeles murder investigation that has ties to a case from his past.
What Works: The Little Things was directed by John Lee Hancock who has generally helmed lighter fare like The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks. Hancock proves adept at handling the much darker subject matter of The Little Things. The picture includes nods to The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en and the picture is a gritty but generally tasteful neo-noir crime drama. This film is a showcase of its core cast. The Little Things is led by Denzel Washington as a sheriff who is called back to the big city that he fled following an unresolved murder case. Washington plays this role with a little more vulnerability than he usually shows; his character is haunted by guilt and that is evident in the way Washington carries himself. Washington is paired with Rami Malek as a hotshot Los Angeles detective. He’s the department’s rising star and Malek’s character is compromised by his desire to see justice done. The primary murder suspect is played by Jared Leto. The actor chews the scenery but he’s an effective match with Washington and Malek. Leto’s character knows how to get under the lawmen’s skin and Leto plays the part with intelligence and a malevolent playfulness.
What Doesn’t: The Little Things is a familiar potboiler detective story. Nothing about it is new or innovative. The relationship between Denzel Washington and Rami Malek’s characters reiterates the policing cliché of the by-the-book officer paired with the wild card partner but the story doesn’t do anything original with that idea nor are the characters’ different work styles put into meaningful conflict. The story also relies on a lot of coincidences. Washington’s character happens to come into town just as a murder occurs with connections to his past. The investigation doesn’t rely on clues or deduction but rather on chance. The resolution of the film is underwhelming. The ambiguous conclusion is consistent with the themes of the story but the ending also fails to resolve anything or arrive at a meaningful resolution. Unlike Se7en, which worked up to an ironic and devastating climax, the ending of The Little Things doesn’t make much impact.
DVD extras: Featurettes.
Bottom Line: The Little Things is a passable crime thriller. The movie has some visual style and the three lead actors elevate the material through their watchable performances. But nothing in it is very original and this is the kind of film that’s ultimately forgettable.
Episode: #851 (May 16, 2021)