The beginning of a new year traditionally brings hope. Hope is restored for a brighter future ahead regarding work, family, relationships, etc. It could even be in the form of a fresh start for your favorite sports teams or other various extracurricular followings. For the sake of this article, I have hope that 2021 will be a better year for all of the above than its predecessor (I refuse to write out or say the previous year out of fear that I will somehow channel back its demons upon us). In addition to all of the aforementioned things, I hope that it will be a much better year at the movies, including the idea that hopefully that phrase will no longer be said figuratively speaking, but rather as an actual thing to do again.
For me, I was under the impression that the fresh start for cinema would begin with the release of The Little Things. I mean seriously, how could a film starring three A-list Oscar winners in Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto not meet or exceed expectations? Well, it wouldn’t be our modern times if that wound up being true. The hangover from last year apparently is not yet fully gone away. I thought The Little Things would be the Advil and Vitamin C that would get me out of this malaise. Instead, it wound up adding to the metaphorical dull headache that we all are trying to get rid of.
As I mentioned, the film stars Denzel Washington as Joe Deacon, a detective who uses an abstract sixth sense to solve crimes. Unfortunately, he has found himself ostracized from the big city police department due to getting overly involved in his cases, causing more harm to himself and others than good. When his small town sends him back to Los Angeles for a quick assignment to gather evidence, Deacon stays longer than he is supposed to in an effort to crack the case of serial murders in the area. During this time, he meets Baxter (Rami Malek), who is basically his replacement in LA County and is still relatively new to the job. Although confrontational at first, Baxter ends up befriending Deacon and the two team up together behind their bosses’ backs. The star of the film though was Jared Leto. His portrayal of Albert Sparma, the suspected killer, was deliberately witty yet demonic.
With all that being said, it was the little things that became larger issues with this movie. The acting was solid, as expected. However, I thought the script was boring and extremely pedestrian. On top of that, the editing was terrible. I normally wouldn’t look to point something out as crazy specific as editing in a review, but that’s how much it stuck out to me. The scene changes were awkward and sudden, and sometimes it felt like the previous scene wasn’t over yet, but the director (John Lee Hancock) chose to change the subject for us anyway.
The other thing that kept bothering me as I watched The Little Things was the fact that Rami Malek would’ve been so much more effective as the antagonist than Leto. Likewise, Leto would’ve been even more charming to the audience and effective as Denzel’s “wet behind the ears” partner. As much as Leto did a great job with the part he was given, Malek just naturally has wandering eyes and an awkward personality that is tailor-made to play a psychopath. The more I watched the movie, the more I kept envisioning the two actors swapping roles and I easily became distracted and annoyed. Unfortunately, the movie continuously failed to reel me back in.
I think The Little Things would’ve been better served as a book written by an author who is renowned for having a way to enthrall the reader with such detail that their words create distinct, cerebral visualizations (like Stephen King or Gillian Flynn, for example). I am not saying that Hancock is a bad writer, and I respect his grind to get this film made even though he wrote it back in the early 1990s. However, I just didn’t vibe with this movie at all. At the end of the day, The Little Things is nothing more than a forgettable film in the careers of all involved that failed to live up to its expectations.
MATTER RATING: 5.5 / 10
OSCAR SCALE: 6 / 10 (Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto)
BY: CHRIS GUEST