Academy Award Winners Denzel Washington, Jared Leto, and Remi Malek star in the new thriller “The Little Things” and combine to make very gripping and memorable performances.
The script was reportedly written over thirty years ago by John Lee Hancock who has gone on to write, direct and produce multiple films of note in the decades since he first created the screenplay.
The film is set in 1990 and involves a cop named Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington), who travels from his small California town to Los Angeles to get information on a suspect.
Joe has a history in L.A. as he used to be a homicide detective for the department which combined with his meltdown while obsessing over a murder case has caused him more than a bit of notoriety.
Jim Baxter (Remi Malek) is the hotshot new Detective who has been leading the investigation into a string of unsolved murders. Joe accompanies Jim to a new crime scene and notes some similarities with his unsolved case.
Joe takes some personal days and begins to do some legwork on the case and reports his findings to Jim which causes Joe to remember aspects of what drove him to his marital, health, and career issues as he is unable and unwilling to let the case drop.
When a prime suspect no longer fits into the picture; suspicions fall on a crime enthusiast named Albert (Jared Leto) who seems to check all the boxes but is also taking delight in winding up Joe which causes Jim to question if he is a viable suspect or just an oddball who gets off on crimes and winding up the cops but does not commit any offenses.
As the delicate dance unfolds between the characters the fact that this is an era before Cell Phones, DNA tests, GPS, and elaborate computer networks help underscore the plight of the officers. If the film was set in a modern setting much of the suspense and uncertainty of the story and characters would be moot thanks to technology.
As the game of cat and mouse unfolds between the characters Jim learns how a person can become obsessed with a case and Joe attempts to mentor him from the success and failures of his life which includes some gray areas.
Aside from the strong performances and engaging story what makes “The Little Things” work is that it is a film that does not take the Hollywood fallbacks of extended gunfights, car chases, and over-the-top action scenes. What it does show are real and flawed characters that are doing what they think is right without attempting to wrap things up in a nice and tidy package.
The film uses the element of doubt to not only drive the story but to help motivate the actions of the characters and underscore the elements of uncertainty that exists in some investigations.
Ambiguity also puts the focus on how investigations and procedures have evolved with the resources available to police.
The film will appear in cinemas and HBO Max and is a compelling and well-crafted thriller that is not to be missed.
4.5 stars out of 5