The Reel Review


Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto star in this grim crime thriller on HBO Max about two detectives on the trail of a serial killer in 1990 Los Angeles. Washington plays a disgraced former detective who, believing a series of killings may be the work of the same killer he failed to capture years before, teams up with his successor (Malek).

Denzel Washington, talking to the dead in The Little Things.

Anyone expecting an old fashioned cat and mouse crime thriller on the scale of Silence of the Lambs, Seven or The Bone Collector (a better Denzel film) is going to be very disappointed. This adequate but incomprehensibly dull story from writer/director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) wouldn’t even cut it as a filler episode of Law & Order: SVU. And for three Oscar-winning actors, the lack of onscreen chemistry is shocking. Washington at least captures the defeated, sad sack spirit of his character. Malek is barely there, and Leto, sporting a pot belly and some serious Charles Manson crazy eyes and hair, is so extra as the prime suspect that it is comical.

Rami Malek, Jared Leto and Denzel Washington in The Little Things.

The dull, dimly-lit middle hour of the film is a complete throwaway – boringly mired in the boring details of detective work and the boundaries some cops skirt (and cross) to catch their suspect. Then there is the big finale, which tosses out all story plausibility, as our detectives make astoundingly bad choices. HBO, do better.


• Writer/Director John Lee Hancock originally wrote the screenplay for The Little Things in 1993, after finishing the Clint Eastwood film A Perfect World.

• Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood and Danny DeVito were each attached to direct this film at one point.

Producer/writer/director John Lee Hancock

• Born in Longview, Texas, John Lee Hancock is a producer (My Dog Skip), writer (Snow White and the Huntsman, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) and director (Saving Mr. Banks, The Blind Side). The Little Things is the first film in which he has done all three.


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