Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe Deacon is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a serial killer who is terrorizing the city.
The dark and moody ‘The Little Things’ is a serial killer drama that promises much through an intriguing premise and a great cast, but doesn’t really go anywhere interesting in the end. It’s one of those films that is frustrating mainly because all of the ingredients are there for greatness, but it seems to get stuck in first gear, unable to really get its story going, and reaching a destination that feels like an obvious nod to a much better movie in this genre. Despite this, it’s always pretty watchable in large part due to the strong performances and as a fan of the genre, it held my attention.
The film takes place in early 90s California where a serial killer is on the loose, with the local cops scratching their heads as they try to solve the case. Enter veteran deputy sheriff Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon (Denzel Washington), who notices similarities between the latest murder and an old cold case he worked on several years earlier. Deke is a classic loner cop, haunted by a tragic past (the most archetypal cop character in the book, albeit he doesn’t appear to have alcohol problems to go alongside it!), but Denzel is good as always and he sells it. He’s partnered by a younger cop played by Rami Malek, and it doesn’t take them long to turn their attention towards a primary suspect, played by Jared Leto in one of those displays that I can’t quite decide whether I thought he was good or not. Regardless, he’s creepy and unsettling, which probably suggests he is good. The story threatens to move in some interesting directions but it never does and the conclusion feels so blatantly derivative of ‘Seven’ that it should be done for copyright.
‘The Little Things’ feels like a missed opportunity, caught between a pulpy suspenseful thriller and a more mature exploration of how this line of work can irreversibly damage the individuals involved. This is a thriller with a familiar feel and that’s alright, but the intrigue doesn’t extend far enough and there’s little here to separate ‘The Little Things’ from better films in a well-trodden genre.
Directed By: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Chris Bauer, Michael Hyatt, Terry Kinney, Natalie Morales, Isabel Arraiza, Glenn Morshower, Joris Jarsky, Sonia Vassilieva and Jason James Richter