Rami Malek and Denzel Washington team up to track down a serial killer.

Rami Malek has recently been on the rise to fame as well as on my list of favorite actors. His acting in the television show “Mr. Robot” is probably his best performance to date and what propelled the show from just an average drama with some technological hacking mischief, to a study on how the schizophrenic mind works.

When it comes to performances that usually steal the show, the same could be said about Denzel Washington and Jared Leto. “The Little Things,” written and directed by John Lee Hancock, is a murder mystery that stars all three of these acting powerhouses.

A serial killer plagues Los Angeles where there has already been several murders with zero suspects to match. Deputy Sheriff Joe Deacon — played by Washington — teams up with Sgt. Jim Baxter, played by Malek, to track down and stop the killer’s murderous rampage. However, one of them might be harboring a dark past that could put the case in jeopardy. 

In a lot of ways, the film resembles many of the narrative elements that are found in existing murder mysteries — such as  “La Confidential,” “Zodiac” and most similarly, “Se7en.” A couple of flawed detectives try to solve a case while a creepy suspect tries to mess with them. In order to combat these popular elements, the film adds some interesting plot points that mix it up in terms of important narrative details, as well as a couple of “edge of my seat” scenes.

Overall, the movie looks really good. This film contains a lot of dark colors and tones that are then disrupted by bright starry lights in the darker scenes that create an interesting look to match the film’s bleak tone. Some aesthetic choices, especially the ones found in the more dimly lit scenes where colors and white lighting really pop out. 

Characters were also very well cast for their roles. Jared Leto has been recently seen playing eccentric characters like the Joker and Niander Wallace and his character in this film, Albert Sparma, is no exception. With the way that Leto is able to portray a very disturbed individual very well, casting him to play the main suspect was a very good choice.

However, while characters are well cast, they unfortunately fall short in their respective roles that make most of the performances end up lackluster. Rami Malek and Denzel Washington especially feel more like they are simply reading lines off of a script rather than embodying their characters, which leaves the chemistry between the two of them almost nonexistent. 

The soundtrack composed by Thomas Newman is one of the best parts of the film. The film’s non-diegetic music is suspenseful and comes in at the appropriate times to heighten the mood of each scene. Without it, the scene wouldn’t be nearly as impactful. The licensed music that they used also complemented the scenes well. Where they would have otherwise likely come off as cheesy, the music worked in the film’s favor and subtly foreshadowed events in an interesting way. 

However, when it comes to more dialogue heavy scenes, the conversations between characters in the film come off very odd. Characters constantly cut each other off making these interactions feel awkward that, in turn, throw off the entire rhythm of the scene. Considering there are a lot of cuts that feel heavily out of place and occur quickly paired with weird sound choices that don’t seem to fit, the editing and sound design here don’t help either.

The film itself moves at a very brisk pace. Right off the bat characters are introduced surprisingly fast and the audience doesn’t really get a chance to learn who they really are before the plot thickens. This pacing issue continues throughout the whole movie until viewers arrive at the climax. 

Overall, “The Little Things” is a great looking movie that will put viewers on the edge of their seats. However, look too closely and you will definitely start noticing the little things, as in the little things that make the movie jarring and odd. If you are a fan of murder mysteries, then I would highly recommmend at least a watch if you have access to it. 

Availability: Available to stream on HBO Max

Title: “The Little Things”

Star Rating: Three stars out of five 

Good:

  • Great aesthetic choices and cinematography
  • Soundtrack adds a lot to the overall ambience 

Bad:

  • Editing and overall pacing of conversations are very jarring
  • Lackluster performances from A-list actors
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