HOLLYWOOD—I really wanted to enjoy this movie, but I will be frank, “The Little Things” does not deliver all the hype that has been buzzing around it. I mean I saw the trailer, countless critics had been talking endlessly about how great it is, but it’s mediocre for me America. Why? It tries to be smarter than what it is, which is not a bad thing; it just does not fully work in my personal opinion. If there is one genre I enjoy more than anything, it’s a mystery/thriller. I enjoy a great whodunit, one that makes you guess and attempt to put the puzzle pieces together before the big reveal.
“The Little Things” has those elements, but they do not fully come to fruition as one hopes. What the movie has going for it is an amazing opening sequence that is tense, edge-of-your seat mayhem that immediately sucks you in. Then we have the nostalgia. This thriller does not take place in the present day, it transpires in the 90s and that old school detective vibe in great mysteries like “Seven” come to the forefront. I constantly found myself comparing “The Little Things” to “Se7en” which is one of the greatest thrillers I have ever seen. It is smart, witty, and nerve-wrecking, with an ending that blows you away. “The Little Things” is not “Se7en” people, not by a long shot.
“The Little Things” has a stellar cast in Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto. Leto becomes a player near the second act of the film, while Washington and Malik are front-and-center from the start. Washington portrays Joe Deacon; a tortured detective with a past that everyone seems to be buzzing about, but no one clearly comes out and says it. Washington does a fine job portraying the tortured soul, and there are indeed some tense and interesting moments between Deacon and Albert Sparma (Jared Leto).
Of all the actors, Leto really shines in my opinion. It is not just the fact that he plays an interesting character, which is odd, eccentric and screams killer, but he literally immerses himself into the roles that he portrays and it was such a treat to watch. As a viewer, I even wanted to learn more about Sparma, his motivation, his backstory and exactly what angle he is playing.
However, that is where the writing for this flick falters. Sparma is such a red herring, as a viewer you know he can’t be the killer or can he? Deacon teams up with Jim Baxter (Malek) who is heading up the investigation on trying to catch this elusive killer who the audience NEVER gets to see. Malek’s character is a complete oddball to say the least, but it works. I think that is the point of the script, the audience is supposed to suspect everyone including Baxter and Deacon if you ask me, and I did for a notable portion of the film.
We see footsteps, a dark silhouette and that is the extent of it. That mystery leaves the viewer wanting more, but at the same time, it literally leaves you wanting more. “The Little Things” gives so little to the audience yet expects you to be satisfied with the crumbs delivered. That is not enough, especially when you’re dealing with a whodunit. You have to give the audience some level of finality otherwise, it leaves them disappointed or frustrated with the end result. Director John Lee Hancock captures that moody atmosphere with perfection, as a viewer you feel engulfed in the mayhem and it leaves you on edge people.
The ending is not predictable, but if you pay attention can you somewhat spot the surprise, if you want to even call it that, which is revealed. I mean it’s a tortured detective that should present you some clues right there America, especially dealing with Deacon’s inability to solve a case from his past that has major similarities to the present.
It is hard to discuss a thriller without fully discussing it out of fear of spoiling things for the viewer. Let’s just say if you’re relying on the hype you’ve heard about this film it will leave you somewhat disappointed as it does not fully deliver in my opinion. I thought about that for a time meaning perhaps that is the intended purpose: to leave the viewer wanting more. However, for “The Little Things” the audience may not be satisfied with the outcome.