Skip to content

Blu-ray Review: The Little Things

May 4, 2021

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

The main draw of The Little Things, an alright if somewhat dated psychological thriller set in the 1990s that offers a mix of rote police procedural and lurid serial killer movie, is the chance to see three Oscar-winning actors going toe-to-toe with each other.

The film’s cast is headlined by the power trio of Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto, taking on the juicy roles of two detectives and a potential serial killer (it’s pretty obvious who is playing who), and their performances are what keep the film mostly watchable.

Washington stars as Joe “Deke” Deacon, a former homicide detective with the LAPD who now works as a Deputy Sheriff in Kern County, California. When he gets sent back to Los Angeles to collect evidence that could help catch the suspect in an attempted murder, Deacon gets pulled onto the latest crime scene of an active serial killer who is murdering young women in the city. Deacon begins to suspect these killings are linked to his case up north, and starts poking around his old division, ruffling some feathers.

The lead investigator on the case is a young, hot-shot detective named Jim Baxter (Malek), who initially clashes with Deacon, before accepting his insight. From here, the film settles into being a sort of buddy cop movie as the grizzled veteran and idealistic rookie must work together to catch the killer. Which brings us to Leto’s role in the film. Leto plays a reclusive appliance repairman named Albert Sparma, one of the suspects that they bring in for questioning, who certainly fits the profile of a potential serial killer.

Leto, who received a Golden Globe nomination for the film, does exactly what we think he will do with this role. With his long, stringy hair and overly measured tone, his performance is perched somewhere between being genuinely creepy and feeling like somewhat of an over-performed caricature. While it is unsettling, we have also seen him do versions of similar schtick before, and at times his characterization of Albert Sparma comes across a bit too much like a more grounded version of his Joker portrayal.

The film is directed by John Lee Hancock, who wrote the first draft of the script back in the early 1990s, and finally settled on making it himself after having it passed on by big directors over the years. Hancock does do a fine job of building tension and atmosphere, but The Little Things is undercut by a sense of familiarity and the strong feeling that we have seen better versions of this story in the past. Put simply, it’s no heir to Se7en or Zodiac, despite being tonally similar to those David Fincher films.

The story has some interesting elements to it, but there are problems with the execution, including some shaky editing and a somewhat bloated running time. The film is still mostly engaging to watch, and did hold my attention throughout, but this doesn’t mean that it’s entirely satisfying, either. The ending is sure to divide viewers over whether or not they find it to be a worthwhile resolution to a story that we have invested this much time in. Like the rest of the film, I was somewhat mixed on it.

With that said, The Little Things is still a fairly decent crime drama that crafts a moderately involving mystery. Washington is a steady presence throughout, and his world-weary performance as a cop with a troubled past that gets slowly revealed is key to the film’s modest watchability. Without an actor of his calibre at the centre, the film might not have worked at all, and Malek gets some good moments as well.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray comes with a pair of featurettes. A code for a digital copy is also included in the package.

The Little Things – Four Shades of Blue (9 minutes, 22 seconds): This featurette looks at Washington’s previous roles as police officers in the fellow Warner Bros. films Ricochet, Fallen and Training Day (for which he won an Oscar), and how his role in The Little Things fits into this legacy.

A Contrast in Styles (7 minutes, 54 seconds): This featurette specifically looks at the performances of Washington, Malek and Leto, and how their own acting styles came together in the film.

The Little Things is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 128 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: May 4th, 2021

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: