By Patrick Brady
Despite having a well-executed, suspenseful opening, “The Little Things” was a complete
disappointment. Although the movie has a promising premise, the execution of the plot is odd.
The film was written and directed by John Lee Hancock, who worked on blockbuster hits, such as “The Blind Side” and “Saving Mr. Banks.” While Hancock has been in the film industry for a while, his films are usually hit or miss.
It was released on HBO Max Jan. 29.
The film stars Denzel Washington as Joe Deacon, Rami Malek as Jim Baxter, and Jared Leto as Albert Sparma.
Deacon, a Kern County deputy sheriQ, is recruited to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in order to collect evidence about a recent murder. After learning of a L.A. murder, Deacon accompanies lead detective Baxter to the crime scene.
After observing the room in which the killings took place, Deacon noticed similarities between the killing and an old serial murder case he was unable to solve. During that same night, Ronda Rathbun, a jogger, was followed by a car and reported missing the following morning.
Upon learning about other victims who were stabbed to death as well, Deacon and Baxter began investigating Sparma, a suspect working at a repair store near where the murders occurred.
Unlike most crime-thriller films, “The Little Things” doesn’t contain a lot of violence. Even though the MPAA states the movie has “violent/disturbing images,” there is little in the way of physical harm inflicted onto others.
For the most part, the movie is overly ambitious and doesn’t live up to the plot’s high expectations.
While the cinematography and score were phenomenal, the script and acting were sub-par. Instead of following the conventional murder story, Hancock decided to take a route less traveled.
My main problem with the film is the first third of it – the scenes moved by way too fast. Due to the fast pace, there were a lot of unnecessarily short conversations between characters.
In fact, there is one incredibly quick scene which slightly resembles the infamous “The Room”
convenience store segment. I won’t spoil it, but I was completely expecting Washington to say, “Oh hi, Malek!”
And along with the first third of the film being incredibly rushed, there were a lot of cringe-worthy exchanges sprinkled in throughout the last hour. On numerous occasions, I found myself wincing at the awkward long pauses in between the spoken dialogue and poorly written character motivations.
While I do have respect for both Washington and Malek as actors, they were completely miscast. Since neither of them melded well with their characters, it left for some unintentionally hilarious scenes.
In particular, there was one incredibly brief exchange between Washington and Leto which left me gasping for breath after laughing so hard – it was that bad.
But I’ll give Washington and Malek some slack, since Leto’s performance was honestly horrendous. Due to his lack of emotion, I truly believe he gave Tommy Wiseau a run for his money.
Despite all of its shortcomings, the film had a few enjoyable aspects. For instance, the stalking
sequences were really well executed and surprisingly suspenseful.
Along with the suspense, the movie moved quickly, which made it interesting yet rushed. Throughout most of it, I was never bored, but rarely engaged with the story.
While “The Little Things” is certainly not a great film, it does try new ways to revamp a formulaic murder mystery. Hancock deserves credit for this, but falters when it comes to his directorial and screenwriting skills.
Plot holes, prolonged pauses, quick scenes, and oQ-putting dialogue littered the script. And based on my knowledge of the film industry, the screenplay is the central part of whether the movie will be good or not.
“The Little Things” is easily the most disappointing film I’ve seen this year by a long shot. After
witnessing the true potential of HBO Max’s original films, I was excited to check out the movie.
While I wish I could recommend “The Little Things,” I simply cannot. The film was essentially an HBO Max train wreck doomed to happen.
Rating: D+ – Maybe sell the script to Wiseau Pictures next time around.