The Little Things

The Little Things

Running Time: 
127 minutes

After watching The Little Things, I couldn’t help but think back to the ending of Seven and Morgan Freeman’s biting final words, “Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.” Society is full of evils, and yet we endure. But at what costs? Like Seven, The Little Things is a crime thriller showing how evil can spill over and envelope a person. It’s a suspenseful mystery that hooks you with its performances and delivers a satisfying story, even if it’s a tad bit underbaked.


Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe "Deke" Deacon (Denzel Washington) used to be a Los Angeles detective, but the job eventually took its toll on him so he transferred to the countryside where the caseload was more manageable despite being one of the best detectives on the force. And yet when he gets called back to the LAPD to pick up some evidence for a case he’s working on, a new string of murders that remind him of his last case in the city draws him back in to help. In charge of the case is the young hotshot detective Jimmy Baxter (Rami Malek) who was initially brought on as Deke’s replacement who is very by the book. While they have a suspect in Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), they’re going to have to work together and maybe go a little bit outside the law if they’re going to bring him to justice.


One of the elements that The Little Things does well is make you question everything. As Deke says, you have to pay attention to the little things because it’s the little things that get you caught. Upon his return to the LAPD he’s given the cold shoulder by most of the force so right away there’s something mysterious and hidden regarding his involvement. On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Jimmy, who is your cookie-cutter good guy almost to a fault. Both Denzel Washington and Rami Malek are fantastic in their roles. On the surface it seems like they fall into your stereotypical good cop/bad cop routine, but there are elements of grey thrown into the mix to shake things up a bit and keep you on your edge.


That brings us to Jared Leto. His performance is absolutely bizarre yet effective. From his creepy voice to his ragged looks and even to his strange gait, everything about his character flashes bright red warning flags. I’m honestly not sure if he’s delivering a great performance or just phoning it in. It’s just Jared Leto being Jared Leto. At the same time, I feel that’s also one of the film’s problems as well. The story so clearly points to Jared Leto as the killer that you can’t help but think he’s not. You have to wonder if there’s a twist because no film would be so blatant about who the murderer is. Then again, maybe they’re pulling one over the audience by putting it all out in the open from the beginning. That’s how The Little Things likes to get inside your head. In the end, however, it’s not about who the murder is.


The Little Things is about how seeing the worst that society has to offer can ultimately change you, either for the better or the worse. Both Deke and Jimmy are shaken by what they have to witness; Jimmy much moreso. The film does a decent enough job at showing this, all the while filling in little details of Deke’s past. It could have been better through as some of the details are extremely thin and don’t make much sense given their context. Still, The Little Things delivers a thrilling mystery with solid and effective performances all around. Whether you see it on HBO Max or in theaters, it’s worth watching.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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