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.

Cast:  Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Chris Bauer, Michael Hyatt, Terry Kinney, Natalie Morales, Isabel Araiza

Directors: John Lee Hancock
Writers: John Lee Hancock

Director and writer John Lee Hancock spent nearly thirty years waiting to get his script for The Little Things produced; now it’s here, and it feels every bit a product of its age. 

The Little Things stars Denzel Washington as Deke, a County Sheriff who gets swept up in a slew of murders that link back to one that haunts him from his young years. He teams up with Rami Malik’s more youthful, less experienced but smart LAPD detective, Baxter, to try and crack the case. As the bodies begin to pile up, they both start searching desperately for their man, and they think they’ve found him in Jared Leto’s creepy Albert Sparma. But without the hard evidence to pin the case, they both begin resorting to desperate measures. 

For the most part, this is a very paint-by-numbers thriller without any thrills. The film meets somewhere between The Bone Collector and Seven but manages to provide less tension that either and certainly doesn’t have David Fincher’s eerie, otherworldly world-building and style. 


The film is built almost exclusively towards its final act and reveals that most viewers will have seen coming a mile away. It’s a misdirect that I like, nonetheless, but just as the film begins to show some exciting character choices and drama worth exploring, the credits started to roll. It was all just for a punchline. There’s no time to examine the psyche of the characters in the moments that follow. You’re left to think it out on the car drive home. A decision is perfectly fine in some films, but with The Little Things, it wasn’t very interesting until that moment, and you end up feeling ripped off.

Denzel Washington is the raft keeping the pieces of this otherwise very mediocre film above water. Rami Malek is seemingly asleep at the wheel or horribly miscast. It could have been both. Jared Leto is effectively creepy, but nothing beyond a cartoon character, which he’s had a lot of practice playing recently. 

Let’s talk about Leto’s character for a moment so I can sufficiently explain what pulled me out of the movie scene-by-scene. The character he plays doesn’t own clothes. He goes to work in a uniform, he gets home and doesn’t change. On his days off, he’s shown wearing that uniform to strip clubs. It’s ridiculous. Did the production budget run out? 

Rami Malek appears to be cursed to appear in films with terrible editing following Bohemian Rhapsody. This film, The Little Things, has more than a couple of jarringly edited scenes. One early scene has Washington merely walking to his car, and there are about five cuts for some reason. There’s a couple of moments like this too. All of which began to drive me insane. 

I wanted to love The Little Things as I miss this genre. What was kicked into full force by The Silence of the Lambs and hit a crescendo with Seven has simply moved mediums. True Detective and Mindhunter have been doing the murder/mystery/thriller better on the small screen for the past few years. The Little Things may have released in 2021, but it may as well have been a long lost tape in the back of a production office, and maybe it should have stayed that way.