Film Review: The Tone-Deaf, Formulaic Approach Murders 'The Little Things'

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CHICAGO – There are over 500 episodes of “Law and Order” but I’m not about to embarrass myself publicly by revealing just how many of those I’ve seen; let’s leave it at “a lot.” In the age of binge television, I know I’m not the only one that has taken a deep dive into the show and other long-running shows like it, but I know we can all agree why we continue watching them: they keep things fresh. Like any television series that has aspirations of longevity, they can’t stay the same over time, especially when it comes to detective procedurals. The Little Things pays homage to everything we love from an old-fashioned detective procedural but aside from being socially tone-deaf, it also has the misfortune of doing it a couple decades too late.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

The story follows a local sheriff who is, of course, haunted by his past as he joins a big city case that triggers some unresolved PTSD. Sheriff Deke (Denzel Washington) teams up with former protégé, now detective Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) as they try to take down a serial killer targeting young women. If you’ve seen the movie poster, you’d know that it doesn’t take a detective to figure out that their main suspect is none other than Albert, played by Jared Leto. Casting alone should have elevated this film, but perhaps the biggest mystery to solve is why this cold case just leaves you feeling cold.

I didn’t go into The Little Things expecting Sherlockian levels of intrigue, but I had hoped that their borrowed elements from the neo-noir genre would be used as a vehicle for a new kind of story and not as the crutch that the film leans too heavily on. The morose ambiance fits the genre perfectly, but it is so unrelenting and with little to no pay-off that once you arrive to the end, you’ve all but given up on the film. This is writer-director John Lee Hancock’s follow up to his equally inconsistent and by-the-numbers detective period piece, The Highwaymen. Both had understandably dour tones, but Hancock’s saving grace for his previous film was that there was a bit of levity in the form of action sequences.

“The Little Things” opened in theaters and HBO MaX on January 29th. Featuring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Chris Bauer, Michael Hyatt, Natalie Morales, and Isabel Arraiza. Directed by John Lee Hancock. Written by John Lee Hancock. Rated “R”

StarClick here for Jon Espino’s full review of “The Little Things”

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Photo credit: Warner Bros

StarClick here for Jon Espino’s full review of “The Little Things”

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