Arts & Entertainment, Features

REVIEW: ‘The Little Things’ thriller is mediocre

A good crime movie leaves you in suspense. A great one leaves you with chills, makes your hands jittery, your palms sweat and your heart skip a beat.

Director John Lee Hancock’s film “The Little Things,” which depicts two Los Angeles detectives trying to solve a series of murders, was released Jan. 29. ILLUSTRATION BY HANNAH YOSHINAGA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

This one, perhaps the newest serial-killer star-studded drama, was just fine.

Writer and director John Lee Hancock released “The Little Things” — a film starring Oscar-winners Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto — Jan. 29.

The crime-thriller drama is just over two hours long, and is streaming on HBO Max until the end of February and is available in limited theaters.

The exciting nature of the genre, or perhaps the well-known stars in the cast, may have enticed viewers to the film, expecting an action-packed thrill.

However, despite my personal excitement, the film flopped with the “slow burn” trope. While the film passed as enjoyable — one I’d cautiously recommend to serial killer film fanatics — it was hard to compensate for the unhurried beginning, which could have easily been a deal breaker.

The main plot of the film is about Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon, played by Washington, who goes to Los Angeles for regular business when he — along with LAPD detective Jim Baxter, played by Malek — becomes engrossed in catching the serial killer wreaking havoc on the city with Sgt. Jim Baxter.

But despite that proclaimed focus, the movie delves into two mysteries — exploring the background of the detective as well as the case.

A significant portion of the movie centers on Deacon’s secretive backstory. Though this creates some confusion at the start, the pieces come together in the end, allowing for some clarity.

Unlike your typical thriller, the movie lacks suspense, with much of the plot easily predicted. To make up for the faults of its main story, the film intensely explores character development and a lot of behind-the-scenes police work during the serial-killer investigation.

Deacon is a rule-breaker, reckless in an investigation he wasn’t even initially assigned to, which garners both admiration and annoyance toward his character.

Malek’s Baxter — a hardworking, determined family man — is easy to love. His character seems to care deeply and genuinely, not just about the case but Deacon as well.

And Baxter’s support for Deacon pays off — at the movie’s conclusion, that help is returned when Baxter needs it most. That’s the most I can spill without spoiling.

While this movie is, as a whole, based on a serial killer, it mainly focuses around the detectives trying to solve the crimes — and the consequences of their questionable spur-of-the-moment decisions.

The film didn’t bring in as many star-dazzling reviews as I’m sure it seeked — capturing a 48 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus seems to be the same: the movie is bland, and probably not worth the watch.

As a fan of crime and thriller movies, I actually did enjoy this movie. The satisfying ending made up for the slow beginning and confusion in the middle, and the mystery peaked my curiosity just enough to carry me to the end.

It’s a movie for a Sunday afternoon when you can’t figure out what to watch, not necessarily a night out on the town. Though a fine story, it’s nowhere near the action-packed, crime-fighting drama it advertised itself to be.

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