Was “The Little Things” Worth a Watch?

Brandon Lee Ramirez / El Paisano Media

“The Little Things” is one of the first films Warner Bros. has slated for a 2021 release on HBO Max.

The Premise

“The Little Things”, from writer-director John Lee Hancock, hit theaters and HBO Max Jan 29. This crime thriller boasts a star studded cast and is the first of the 2021 slate Warner Bros. plans to release on HBO Max. The film follows Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington). Deke goes to Los Angeles to retrieve evidence for a case in Kern county. The attention he gets from his former co-workers sparks interest in their new star detective David Baxter (Rami Malek). The case Baxter is working on is very similar to the case that ruined Deke’s career as a detective. By inviting Deke to a ride along Detective Baxter unintentionally entangles Deke in his case and a new obsession. 

A Mixed Bag

The premise of “The Little Things” isn’t exactly original. In fact, it’s pretty pulpy. Despite being a pretty familiar story it’s also very confusing. At least on a single watch. The primary conflict of the film is between Deke, Baxter, and the strange Albert Sparma (Jared Leto). Sparma is a crime buff that seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time by choice. His off putting demeanor makes him Deke’ and Baxter’s prime suspect. However, by the end of the film, no solid evidence places Sparma as the killer. Beneath this plot, there is also a conflict between Deke and Baxter. Deke sees himself in Baxter. He struggles with being involved with the case while keeping Baxter from following down the same path he did. 

This film asks for more than casual viewing, but it doesn’t do very much to encourage it. While not particularly confusing on a second watch, the oddly sluggish pacing and lacking dialogue becomes boring far too quickly to keep your attention beyond the who-done-it plot. . 

Verdict

The writing and direction leave something to be desired. The guardian angel and religious motifs are a bit too obvious, and the characters hardly express personalities beyond calm, paranoid, or creepy. The acting elevates otherwise dry direction and dialogue. Leto is imposing and strange, Malek expresses the cracks in Baxter’s confidence expertly, and Washington puts his age and weight into Deke’s ultimately selfish goals. Overall “The Little Things” was boring enough to pass, unless you’re a fan of true crime or the pulpy detective stories where the killer isn’t as important.  

 

 

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