Film Review: The Little Things

By Jay Betsill

The Little Things” features an all star cast with Academy Award winners Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto going toe-to-toe in a grisly thriller based around two cops teaming up to track a serial killer in Los Angeles in 1990.

Washington is his usual greatness as Kent County Deputy Joe “Deke”Deacon who accompanies recently appointed lead detective Jimmy Baxter (Malek) to the scene of a murder in L.A. Baxter learns from the precinct’s captain and Deke’s former partner Farris, that Deacon got divorced and suffered a heart attack, due to his intense obsession with his unsolved murder case.

“The Little Things” starring Denzel Washington (Photo/Warner Bros.)

There is another murder the next evening that is consistent with both the earlier murder as well as the string of killings that Deacon was unable to solve — the victims were all prostitutes stabbed to death.

The cops learn that the FBI is being called in to take over the investigation within a few days, so with their time to solve the case dwindling, they identify Albert Sparma (Leto) as their prime suspect. When Sparma is brought in for questioning, he taunts the detectives as if the entire thing is a game while further convincing them of his guilt.

Sparma seems to thrive in the cat-and-mouse contest that ensues with the detectives and the closer they get, the more frightening their suspect becomes.

Malek gives a solid performance as Baxter as the determined cop that borders on the same type of obsession that was the undoing of Deke.

Leto has the least screen time of the Oscar winners, but he eats up the screen when he joins the fray, making the most of his the creepy loner that is a self-described “crime buff” and spends his free time at the local strip club.

Granted there are a few plot devices that seem to be “borrowed” from such classics as “Manhunter” starring William Peterson and “Seven” starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, but in the end, “The Little Things” delivers its chills and its A-list cast is in top form.

“The Little Things” was written and directed by John Lee Hancock (The Rookie, The Blind Side, The Highwaymen). Hancock wrote the script in 1993 for Steven Spielberg to direct, but Spielberg passed because he reportedly felt the story was too dark.

“The Little Things” is currently playing in theaters with a simultaneous release on the HBO Max streaming service for 31 days, as part of Warner Bros.’ plans for all of its 2021 films.

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