Three great stars, one familiar premise, and one entertaining movie.
Denzel Washington’s latest movie “The Little Things” is the next movie from Warner Bros. to be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. As a crime drama, this has been compared to the 1995 Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman thriller “Seven” by other film critics, and it does sound like “Seven” if you really look at it.
But if you also look at it another way, you might see it as an entertaining thriller that makes up for the last few crime dramas we’ve seen within the past few weeks. It’s more affective than either “The Marksman” or “No Man’s Land.” And “The Little Things” is not a western. But it does have a greta lead like Washington, along with Rami Malek and Jared Leto.
The story, written and directed by John Lee Hancock, is set in 1990, when a serial killer begins abducting and/or murdering young women. Washington plays a disgraced Kern County deputy sheriff named Joe Deacon, who believes it’s the little things that make a difference in a murder mystery and rip you apart, Malek plays LAPD Detective Jimmy Baxter, who clashes with him on the case, and Leto plays a creepy mechanic named Albert Sparma, who may or may not be the the bad guy.
The murder mystery Deacon is solving is very similar to another case from 5 years ago-one which made him so obsessed that it cost him his reputation and marriage. He and Baxter both intend to solve the case their own ways, but eventually when they pin Sparma as the suspect and the big guys start to take over the case, these two start to collaborate.
“The Little Things” gets confusing at times, but it also keeps you guessing, as the movie takes its delicates steps at revealing why the deputy sheriff needs redemption, and how the past comes back to haunt him. This is the kind of Denzel Washington mass market thriller that I looked for and missed in “The Equalizer” movies. It delivers on his strengths and weaknesses, and provides him with a character study.
I won’t reveal much about his character’s past, but I can tell you his performance is electrifying. And that also applies to Malek and Leto. Maybe not the Oscar worthy level of his Freddy Mercury role in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but still Malek eases his emotions. And Leto makes a convincing creep with his long hair, beard, and suspicious behavior. Forget “Suicide Squad,” this is one his best roles, ranking with “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Requiem for a Dream.”
I also admired its early 90s look and feel. Not just for its “Goodfellas” billboard posters and vehicles, but also for its scope (John Schwartzman did the cinematography), score (composed by Thomas Newman), and atmosphere. John Lee Hancock is inspired by many other movies, and while we demand originality, every once in a while, we just want to take a break from wanting, and just enjoying viewing this movie for what it is. It’s a smart and pulsating crime drama with three excellent lead actors and strong ambition.
In Theaters and On HBO Max