The Little Things: Stop me if you’ve seen this one before

Review: An A-list cast cannot redeem this dreary retread of a 20-year-old genre

The Little Things in which Denzel Washington is, well . . . Denzel.

Film Title: The Little Things

Director: John Lee Hancock

Starring: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Natalie Morales

Genre: Crime

Running Time: 128 min

Fri, Mar 12, 2021, 05:00

   

Remember the late 1990s? Remember all those post-Seven fin de siècle serial killer movies? Had The Little Things arrived between the movie in which Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd investigate a dead woman bound to a tree and the movie in which Morgan Freeman and Monica Potter investigate a dead woman bound to a tree, it might have been the most popular butchered-females film of 1999.

Writer-director John Lee Hancock’s film has been bouncing around Hollywood since 1990, so it’s only right that the film is set in that decade, at a time when its many tropes held some possibility for reinvention. An illegal search makes the cops the good guys, right?

Here is the Little Things checklist: A forensic detective with Sherlock-shaming insights and inner demons (Denzel Washington, a rock despite the mouldy material), an equally clever suspect (Jared Leto, going for broke and a second Oscar) and – wait for it – a conversation between the pair featuring the phrase: “You know, you and I are a lot alike. In another lifetime, we could have been friends.”

It’s familiar old rope for Washington, who starred in The Bone Collector and Fallen when the serial-killer subgenre and lady bits in refrigerators were all the rage. His gnarled and disgraced cop Deke(!) teams up with family man and hotshot homicide sergeant Jim Baxter (Rami Malek). They’re joined by a third Oscar winner in Leto, as a Manson-alike suspect in a series of abductions and murders.

Leto has fun with his creepy prison-yard stare and finds even more campy outsized gestures than he mustered for his turn as the Joker. He has rightly received Best Supporting Actor nods at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards for his efforts. Hancock, who has directed much better films (The Founder, The Blind Side), keeps the pace brisk. Denzel is Denzel.

But the quality of the staff only sets the viewer wondering why they all signed up for this. And that’s before the late, sigh-making twist. It’ll do well enough for fans of 1990s artefacts. 

  • On PVOD from March 11th