HBO Max is back with another simultaneous streaming service and theater release, but this time with a crime thriller jam-packed with Academy award-winning actors and high expectations. The only main question is if this movie lives up to those expectations. I’m here to answer that question with some spoiler-filled answers in this article, so please tread lightly. You have been warned.
The Little Things follows deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon(Denzel Washington) who makes his way from the tumbleweed infested areas of his county lines, to the city of Los Angeles where he was once a lead detective. Deke almost immediately bumps heads with the younger and newer lead detective Jim Baxter (Rami Malek). Tensions rise as the younger detective is currently on a murder investigation that is eerily close to the investigation that pushed Deke away from being a detective and out of the city years ago. Soon friendly ridealong invitations turn to investigative helping hands. Deke realizes that his initial eerie feelings about the case are becoming haunting realities, and the demons he tried to bury years ago have risen again. This time he must make sure they stay buried for good.
I won’t beat around the bush at all. I was pretty disappointed with this movie. Before I get into what I didn’t enjoy about the movie, I want to talk about the positives. Denzel Washington is Denzel Washington, and I will love that man forever. It was also visually a lovely movie with such a captivating score, that my fiancé and I paused the movie halfway through just to see who composed it. That is all. Now let’s get into it.
I made a list of my most highly anticipated movies this year and The Little Things easily made the top 3 from the first time I saw the trailer. The only thing that this movie taught me is that I might stop watching trailers in 2021 because this movie showed way too much in theirs. The promo made a point to showcase intense scenes and the incredible actors that would be in it, but all of those intense short clips wound up being the best parts of the movie. Also knowing all three of the Academy Oscar-winning actors who are in the movie takes away from one of the best possible reveals of the whole story. If I went into the movie not knowing that Jared Leto was in it – his introduction scene an hour and 10 minutes in, would have a way better pay off than it does, and that’s extremely disenchanting. When Jared Leto’s character finally does get introduced and involved for the remaining hour of the movie, Jared doesn’t quite do what he needed to with his alleged serial killer character – but he does bring new excitement to the movie that ultimately amounts to absolutely nothing.
Another disappointment to the movie was the editing and pacing. The movie felt like it was cutting to a new shot every two or three seconds, which is terrible pacing for a movie that is supposed to be building suspense and anticipation. This is not an action movie. Even during vital scenes like Denzel and Rami discussing the investigation, the camera is cutting back and forth between the two every couple of seconds. Why not just let the scene breathe? You have Academy award-winning actors in your movie for a reason and that reason is to let them act – so please do that by placing your camera down and show you exactly why they earned the right to have that golden man named Oscar sitting on a shelf somewhere in their house.
This movie ultimately feels like it is to Se7en what Den of Thieves is to Heat. It is the little brother to a movie that came out years before that was better written, directed, edited, and acted and will never get as much praise as its more successful and better-looking sibling. At least Den of Thieves has really good heist scenes and a twist ending that was good enough to warrant a sequel I would care about watching.
The reason I have been so hard on this movie is its main character’s pressing plot point. It has the audacity to be about a cop that makes a life-changing & career-ending decision but it doesn’t because a lot of their colleagues “care” about them enough to help them sweep it under the rug. We live in a world where cops are abusing their power & mistreating civilians right in front of our faces every single day. We don’t need to watch a movie where that’s a big reveal or a twist ending. We especially don’t need it in a movie where the cop is played by a black actor that the black community loves immensely, like Denzel Washington, so it can be overlooked.
I know for a fact that HBO has a stacked list of movies to be released this year that will make up for this release, such as Judas and the Black Messiah; which also made my most anticipated movies of 2021 list. Maybe I’m being foolish for continuing to anticipate this movie will fill that missing feeling that I’ve longed for this past year due to the screeching halt of releases, but here’s to hoping the movie will cleanse my palate and wash the bad taste out of my mouth that The Little Things left.
Elijah Horton is a Long Island born, Orlando-based writer and photographer. Since he was a kid, Elijah has had a deep passion for movies, music, and photography.
That passion led him to Full Sail where he graduated with a film degree and a desire to make a film of his own one day. For now he’s just pretty good at writing about them.