IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MAKE OR BREAK.
The Little Things is released in New Zealand Cinemas
Like Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, there has not been another one of his films that have surpassed its critical acclaim. I feel the same way with David Fincher’s fictional neo noir crime film ‘Se7en’ which stands alone atop an abundance of serial killer movies since its release in 1995. The latest serial killer entry ‘The Little Things’ starring Denzel Washington can take its place among the abundance, how far down the pile? It’s slow burn descends the film near the bottom, saved only by the film's star power (Denzel’s fellow Oscar winners Rami Malek and actor/musician Jared Leto) and distinct thought provoking conclusion which almost mimics the trip John Doe takes Detectives Mills and Somerset in Se7en. It's the little things that keep me from giving the movie 1 out of 5 stars, and it's probably the little things that could have elevated this crime noir story to the top.
Let me explain.
by Cameron Schuster I 12 February 2021
The Little Things is directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Founder) and he talked to Deadline about how he wrote the script back in 1993 two years before Se7en was released but held onto the script when, at the time, Steven Spielberg declined to direct due to the story being too dark. A little thing like timing makes all the difference as we know Se7en was indeed a masterpiece and a game changer in terms of movie plot ‘twists’. The Little Things plays out similar to Se7en, you have two cops one older and wiser than the younger rising detective who set out on a cat and mouse chase to find a serial murderer which culminates to a.55n all is not as what it seems climax. That said, The Little Things falls short in content and is burdened with lingering plot developments as opposed to Se7en having a much more uptempo beat and fast paced storyline. I am wondering if the movie was filmed and released at the time it was written, Se7en would have been the copycat movie and The Little Things would have achieved more positive reactions than the mixed views it has received today from most public critics.
STAR POWER / LOW BATTERY
Three academy award winners headline The Little Things, Jared Leto (best supporting actor for Dallas Buyers Club) plays the main suspect Albert Sparma. Here, Leto gives a typical performance for the creepy loner character that audiences have seen before which makes Sparma quite unbelievable and predictable. You hope that Leto would bring his antagonist to the level of Heath Ledgers Joker but unfortunately fails to even touch his Suicide Squad Joker in this case.
In a similar vein Rami Malek’s (best actor for Bohemian Rhapsody) character Detective Jim Baxter is quite weird, he plays the cop that is assigned to a murder case in L.A. and needs the help of Joe Deacon (Washington) to solve the case. I wonder if he was the right actor to play his part because it felt awkward. There were some confusing moments when the film introduces Baxter involving a tow truck that left me dwelling on whether the scene was necessary but again, like Sparma I felt Baxter by himself wasn't believable and when acting around Denzel in the same scene Baxter became invisible.
Ever since his time on the tv show St Elsewhere Denzel Washington (best actor for Training Day) has been one of the greatest actors of our time. I compare him to the likes of Robert DeNiro in terms of his range of acting skills, longevity and outright coolness. Denzel plays Deputy Sheriff Joe "Deke" Deacon who is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes involved in the search for a serial killer who is terrorizing the city of L.A. If Denzel’s colleagues above were low in battery for star power then Denzel brought it back home and boosted the engines with his superb performance. Denzel has this ability to appear in bad movies (Virtuosity, Fallen) over his illustrious career and steal every scene, The Little Things is no different and I felt for Leto and Malek as they looked like over acting around Denzel.
I love the serial killer genre, if Silence of the Lambs set the standard then Se7en took it to the next level. The little Things felt a bit outdated and was too slow to develop the plot which affected the suspense that needed to be at certain parts of the film. Warner Bros missed the boat on this one, a boat that left the harbour in 1993, an opportunity Se7en pounced on and won. The movie is slow and sometimes boring and the characterisation was mediocre. You did not feel for these supporting characters, Malek and Leto did not offer anything extra on their parts which was disappointing. There are also numerous obvious likings to this movie and Fincher’s film which spoil the overall experience but for me the ending was interesting in its own way, well it reminded me of the ending to The Irishman where it was a different take on the typical gangster movie ending. The distinct conclusion and Denzel’s performance was The Little Things saving grace.
2 out of 5 stars