I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!
John Lee Hancock
John Lee Hancock
During this pandemic era of moviemaking and movie watching the new cop procedural thriller drama fantasy science fiction subtle prequel to The Equalizer 30 Seconds to Mars video -we will never see the new Bond movie will we?- straight to HBO Max and theaters if you feel like actually getting into your car and paying a ticket to see this mediocre---
Where was I?
Oh yes. Denzel Washington’s first movie in over two and a half years, The Little Things, is dropping in theaters (good luck finding one that’s actually open) and on Christopher Nolan’s favorite streaming service on the same day.
Either way you do choose to see this maddingly middling movie, you’ll be more than a little(!) disappointed. The movie is set in 1990, and there are more than a couple of times when Little Things feels like Se7en or any of those barely lit 90s procedurals that invaded the gigaplexes long before there were such things as streaming services.
Having mentioned that, you should just rewatch Se7en or The Silence of the Lambs or even Denzel’s Fallen. You’re pretty much guaranteed to have a better time. And when it comes to two hours that feel like a two and a half draggy hours, that’s no little thing.
The Little Synopsis
As mentioned, The Little Things opens in 1990. You can tell because the pagers look like cell phones today, pay phones that look bigger than most smart cars, and a white girl that’s listening to the B-52s on what’s called a “radio station”.
While soon-to-be-dead white girl is listening to the radio, she hasn’t quite noticed a car has been following her since the opening shot. We don’t want her to die because she’s white and if she dies then the authorities will care and spare no expense to see her killer is caught.
White girl finally notices someone is following her. If this were the present day we could blame it on her phone.
We hope white girl isn’t dead. Any other race but white.
The Little Things opens again somewhere in Southern California. We meet Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington -The Magnificent Seven, father of John David Washington, daughter of Morgan Freeman). He’s a mere sheriff’s deputy but he’s being sent to Los Angeles to pick up some paperwork and maybe work out some demons that you’ll only be familiar with through numerous flashbacks.
Deke is back in his old stomping grounds where he used to be a pretty decorated officer. It seems like he’s been run out of town. But he’s only here to pick up some paperwork and that’s it. No need for him to get involved with anything else.
Except there are a string of unsolved murdered girls. 6 or 7 at last count. But they have nothing to do with Deke because---
---Unmotivated flashback!!! Or is it?
While Deke’s trying to pick up that paperwork, he’s remembers the time about 5 years ago when he was on a remarkably similar case.
Deke’s having flashbacks that has EVERYTHING to do with what Deke is doing today. 5 years ago, Deke was involved in an extremely similar case and before you can spell ‘cliché’ without the ‘shay’ Deke was so obsessed he got divorced, got demoted, lost his left testicle (it had nothing to do with the case, he just misplaced it) and the case remained unsolved.
Deke wonders if this new case has something to do with his old case.
It might, but it’s not Deke’s problem. It’s the department’s new hotshot detective Jim Baxter (undeserved Oscar Winner Rami Malek- this time he does not lip synch, so there’s that). He’s not going to rest until the cased is solved or until another girl is kidnapped.
Deke may have some familiarity with this case and lends his valuable insight and services.
Jim does not like anybody stepping on his toes and resents Deke’s intrusion.
Deke and Jim don’t get along and have a d*ck measuring contest for about 15 minutes. Deke wins.
Jim and Deke get along now. With their combined forces, they will solve this crime in no time. The killer will be apprehended and the dead girls will come back to life thanks to Jim and Deke and the power of mother*cking teamwork.
And then another girl is kidnapped.
Maybe a little too early to celebrate.
Fortunately, Jim and Deke find a suspect. They interrogate him but are forced to let him go. He kills himself. Girl is still missing. Deke and Jim f*cked that one up.
But they have another suspect. His name is Albert (Oscar Winner Jared Leto- Suicide Squad). He’s got long stringy hair, walks with an affected limp, and has true crime books in his apartment. He’s also the worst written Joker ever.
Is creepy Albert the killer? Or is he just a guy that likes hanging out at crime scenes and saying things serial killers would say? Will Deke and Jim find out before another girl gets killed?
Judging by their track record, probably not. RIP missing girl.
What Works With The Little Things
- Denzel L Jackson Washington’s captivating lead performance is pretty much the only reason you’d actually watch the entirety of this movie. Everything he does feels fresh and in-the-moment. You never get the feeling Washington is in a substandard thriller that doesn’t thrill. You wish the movie were as good as his performance.
- A wonderfully (SPOILERISH) ambiguous ending that might have saved the movie had not getting to it been such…a…chore. Is the ending worth what you have to go through to get to it? Not at all, but if you’re stuck at home and all you have is your HBO Max subscription and infinite patience then it might be worth wasting 90 minutes of your time.
What Doesn’t Work With The Little Things
- Writer/director John Lee Hancock seems to think that The Little Things is a pilot for an upcoming TV show instead of a feature film. Everything in the first 2 acts is glacially paced with each generic plot reveal something we’ve seen before in countless other movies and TV shows. How about do a little thing and drop all the boring parts?
- Rami Malek brings almost no energy to his role. You get the feeling Malek dialed it down to offset Washington’s intensity, but what ends up happening is that Denzel blows him off the screen. His final shot underlines most of the failures of his performance. Don’t think I’m picking on Malek because Bohemian Rhapsody is a piece of garbage. I enjoyed him in Mr. Robot (a solid show for the most part), but he’s woefully miscast here.
- A scene involving a shovel that’s supposed to be suspenseful but just ends up being unintentionally funny because it drags on so much.
- Jared Leto, acting in another movie. It’s not a bad performance per se, and he sort of livens things up whenever he’s onscreen, but it underlines just how much of The Little Things is more than a little boring.
It make sense that The Little Things is set in the 90s because it’s a movie that you’d skip in theaters, rent at a “video store”, accrue late fees on it because it takes you 2 or 3 times to finally get through. So just skip it all together.