Buffalo Bill, John Doe, … whatever their name may be, the movies have always loved serial killers. Their sick and twisted minds tangled in a game of wits with a seasoned detective and, as screenwriting 101 will have it, a rookie cop trying to prove something. ‘The Little Things’ tries to add a new name to that infamous list.

Deacon (Denzel Washington) is a washed out deputy with a big secret looming over his once promising detective career. While running a routine errand he gets involved in a case surrounding a possible serial killer. The case is run by Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) an ambitious go-getter who’s intrigued by Deacon and his less than conventional way of solving cases.

While not completely deserving of the heaps of bad press, ‘The Little Things’ does miss the mark by more than a few miles. Deacon’s backstory is fed to us in uselessly repetitive flashbacks that add very little to the proceedings. The whodunit element of the story is painfully meagre and would fall flat on its face if it wasn’t for an eerily invested Jared Leto as creep du jour Albert Sparma. For a story that tells us that the devil is in the details there are some unforgivably gaping holes of logic in the plotting. There is some seriously clunky exposition to get through and a few visual choices (let’s call them “the angels”) come across as laughable. The film simply feels dated, like it belongs to the nineties in which the story is set.

The Little Things‘ tries to make up for its slow burn towards nothing by throwing in a few ambiguous surprises near the end. Not nearly enough to save it from being a very bland procedural that wastes the talent of its main cast.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Review – ‘The Little Things’

Reviewed online, January 31, 2021. Rating: M. Running time: 127 min.

PRODUCTION: A HBO Max release of a Gran Via, Warner Bros. production. Producers: John Lee Hancock, Mark Johnson (p.g.a.). Executive producers: Mike Drake, Kevin McCormick.

CREW: Director/screenplay: John Lee Hancock. Cinematography: John Schwartzman. Editing: Robert Frazen. Score: Thomas Newman.

CAST: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Chris Bauer, Michael Hyatt, Terry Kinney, Natalie Morales, Isabel Arraiza, Joris Jarsky, Glenn Morshower.

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