Despite the fact that the production and distribution of films has largely withered into a husk of its former self some things never change, that being that the month of January is where movies go to die, there you’ll find the collective mass grave of many productions that have already been predestined for disappointing returns. This is where we find Warner Brothers newest gravestone, which is marked with fancy calligraphy, spelling out ‘The Little Things, written and directed by John Lee Hancock’.
This was one of the first films to be released both in cinemas, those that are still open out there in this brave new world and on the streaming service HBO Max. The decision Warner Brothers took to stage this simultaneous release of all their upcoming films this year was a controversial one among many actors and filmmakers. Within the choir of disapproval from big name film directors and stars, there wasn’t much said concerning this thriller/crime piece and after sitting down and watching it I can see why.
So, what’re we looking at with this movie? The plot is pretty bare bones, we have the character of Joe “Deke” Deacon who’s a seemingly small-town deputy sheriff who falls into the splash zone of a big profile case when he takes a trip to the sunny Southern Californian city, Los Angeles. There he teams up with the hot shot straight edge Sargent Jim Baxter to solve the case of a serial killer who’s plaguing the city of sun-bleached angels. As the case unfolds so does the questionable events of Deke’s mysterious past within the city, he once called his home.
First and foremost, I’m gonna throw my opinion out there, because that’s all this is a rather complicated way for me to extend my opinion out there. Did I like this movie? I'm going to say no I didn’t. So, I guess that means I disliked it then, also no. I didn’t dislike this movie either. This movie is so perfectly middle of the road its downright insulting. It’s fine, that's all it is and that's all it can hope for in all honestly. Now what is it that makes it so… what’s the word? Not overwhelming or underwhelming…simply whelming.
I didn’t watch this film upon initial release I waited quite a while before pressing play and letting the reel play. During this period all I heard down the grape vine was that this picture was saved from a mundane and quiet death due to the performances. And I mean come on a simple glance at the cast list reveals the audience would be looking down the barrel at Denzel Washington play “Deke”, Rami Malek playing “Sgt. Jim Baxter” and Jared Leto playing the greasy looking “Albert Sparma”.
Don’t get me wrong there certainly is a lot of “acting” in this film, don’t lose sight of that! There’s plenty of acting to go around for everyone. Let’s focus on the three big guns I named previously as they get the most screen-time. Denzel Washington does what he does best, and he slots his signature Denzel attributes into this character, his character of “Deke’ is a real salt of the earth type of guy with a little pepper thrown in there to spice things up, he’s got an edge and a keen eye for the job, casual and collected mostly until the kitchen gets too hot. Resulting in him cracking lines such as this classic, "Your dick is harder than Chinese arthmitic!!”. Yeah… there’s some really bizarre dialogue in this film that being a prime example.
And then we have Jared Leto and Rami Malek, both of these performances were heavily praised following the releases of this feature. Big boy Leto even managed to snag himself a golden globe nomination for his role. I dunno what was going on when they decided upon that. Jared Leto gives too much, and Rami Malek barely gives anything at all, they’re both on opposite sides of the spectrum here and the scenes they share together just fall hard and fast, utterly flat, lacking tension and suspension and overall chemistry, it's disappointing frankly.
I will say this in regard to Leto, he really gives it his all as he’s been known to do in the past. I found him downright repulsive to look at, he’s got a spec of charm but it’s fleeting. It’s a kin to finding a lollipop on the ground, you can see the hard colourful candy that was once a lollipop before it got engulfed in the grime and the dirt that it found itself laying in, that’s Jared Leto, not his character but the actual person or is it? It's hard to say with all the method acting he's throwing around these days.
Anyway! The editing throughout this film is simply atrocious with strange gimmicky scene transitions that don’t fit the style or the tone the film is trying to portray, and a large and I mean large number of unnecessary cuts made to characters so we can see them simply smile or carry out some other monotonous action, followed by a number of jarring cuts that completely drain the scene of all momentum, there’s some bizarre editing choices throughout this entire movie which are glaringly obvious.
Another bizarre choice within the film is the score. The score does not in any way whatsoever reflect the type of film this is or trying to be. There’s multiple points where uplifting music would play as if ripped out of a Pixar film during a supposedly dramatic and tense scene. It's like each department had a different idea as to what the tone of this film should be. Lastly the set production is all together completely lacklustre. Apparently, it’s set in the 90s? Well, you could’ve fooled me honestly!!
Overall, this film is lacking depth, I felt no need to get invested in the characters that were being shown to me. They were in no way sympathetic or relatable and strangely enough as the run time built up and began to haemorrhage I felt myself growing less and less attached to these downright wooden excuses for characters. In all honesty I would say I disliked this film, but I won’t because that would imply further thought upon the subject and after I’ve posted this I’m never going to think about this film again.
In the end it all came down to the failures of the little things in this film, and what were those little things? Well, it was everything, it was the big things.