Movie review: The Little Things
It is the little things that are important. That get you caught. That rip you apart.
Denzel Washington's haunted cop adopts this mantra to catch his killer in the neo-noir crime thriller directed, written and produced by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr Banks) that was 30 years in the making.
The devil is in the details when it comes to nailing a good film. But after all the clues, red herrings and secrets thrown in, the sum of the parts here just do not add up to much.
On paper, it looks like a slam dunk, an open-and-shut case.
The Little Things unfolds like a familiar police procedural, detective story and cat-and-mouse game all in one but strangely lacks edge-of-your-seat thrills or chills.
The star power involved - three Oscar winners, mind you - also cannot completely salvage Hancock's slow-burning stab at a well-worn genre.
It is signposted throughout that something is not quite right with Washington's lawman, and fortunately the towering thespian is given enough to chew on to deliver a dark and bleak character study.
Less interesting is Rami Malek's role that does not require much range, while I find Jared Leto's creepy turn and smart-mouthed one-liners increasingly tiresome.
The atmospheric 90s setting, central trio and moody, gritty style will lead to comparisons with David Fincher's seminal 1995 serial killer classic Seven, which pit the pairing of Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt against a terrifying Kevin Spacey.
The Little Things even culminates in a final act that is such a copycat of Seven, I was half expecting someone's head to turn up in a box again.
But there is no devastating reveal or diabolical shocker to be savoured.
The plot "twist" lands with an underwhelming and frustrating thud, as you go from "who did it?" to "is that it?".
Nothing against open-ended, morally ambiguous conclusions that subvert expectations. But for a talent-stuffed movie that promises big things, we get a payoff - the tragic repercussions of truth and obsession - that proves to be rather small.
FILM: The Little Things
STARRING: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto
WRITER-DIRECTOR: John Lee Hancock
THE SKINNY: A veteran deputy sheriff (Washington) joins forces with a hotshot detective (Malek) to search for a serial killer who is murdering young women in Los Angeles, but the investigation into their chief suspect (Leto) uncovers disturbing secrets.