“It’s the little things that are important, Jimmy.”
Says the veteran cop to the hotshot rookie detective, and is something heard before in other films. Sadly, the reason The Little Things turns out very subpar and forgettable is, to be honest, the little things.
This film has been in the vault for some time for director John Lee Hancock (since the early 90s, which is when the story takes place.) If you watch The Little Things, the 1990s film Se7en will be on your mind, which you will soon wish you were watching rather than The Little things.
The Little Things focuses on a series of killings in the LA area. These eventually end up on the doorstep of semi-retired Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon (Denzel Washington). After leaving the force for nearly five years, he finds himself sucked back into the new cases, led by Jim Baxter (Rami Malek). While indeed talented, the young Baxter eventually ends up looking to Deke for advice as they eventually come across suspect Albert Sparma (Jared Leto). At the same time, Deke also is having flashbacks to a particular case that has been haunting him for years.
(Note: Going into the film, it really isn’t spoiling who the bad guy is when you look at the list of three Oscar winning actors).
There is the obvious plus to the film in the form of Denzel Washington, because, well, he is Denzel Washington. It is truly not possible to dislike him in any film, even if the film is bad. He is not only one of the best actors we have; he also is one of the few stars that you can’t find haters for (Tom Hanks fits this category as well).
Malek and Leto are indeed talented, but the role Malek plays is one seen before in other films (rookie cop starts out his career strong, becoming a bit cocky in the process.) Rami Malek (who is indeed talented) brings nothing new to the table, even if there is some decent chemistry between him and Washington. Leto does seem to be taking a different approach: rather than hamming it up (as he did in the very unfortunate Suicide Squad) he is almost always one turn in front of Jim (though not Deke).
As mentioned, there are far too many similarities to David Fincher’s classic 1995 thriller Se7en. From having an African American veteran cop helping the rookie hot shot (and meeting with his family) to having the film end in almost the exact kind of setting, the only thing that seems to be missing is having Malek cry out “WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!?!”. True, both films do center on how people (however good) can be pushed to their breaking point, but that leads to what makes the films vastly different: pacing. The Little Things is proof that there is a difference between a film taking its time versus being so slow it takes away ours.
Parents, the film does indeed deserve the R rating. Though not as dark in tone and theme as Se7en, it still does have a good amount of gruesomeness. The victims (all female) are also shown nude (waist up), though the film does not have any sex in it. The swearing is more on the PG-13 side (maybe 3 or so F bombs). That said, High School and up.
There is a family in my local church who tend to like horror/thrillers, whose young teenage son, Jason, has been letting me know (especially during the pandemic) the films he has been seeing. He was upset to learn I was not a fan of The Little Things, though he also admits to not having yet seen Se7en.
Jason, in case you (or anyone else reading this) have not picked up on the obvious message of this review, here it is.
Se7en > The Little Things.