The slow burn thriller keeps the mystery up long enough to hold your attention and entertain you for two hours. John Lee Hancock‘s direction provides a consistent atmosphere that is aided by John Schwartzman‘s cinematography. And Jared Leto‘s performance as a suspected serial killer is as eerie and unnerving as expected.
That’s just about everything that works for this film.
Every character feels one dimensional. Whereas “Seven” and “True Detective” have layers upon layers to analyze, for “The Little Things,” what you see is what you get. Denzel Washington‘s Joe Deacon is haunted by the cold case that caused his life to go into a downward spiral. While his performance is no where near what it could be (see Matthew McConaughey in “True Detective”), Washington has a few shining moments.
The same can’t be said for Rami Malek‘s Detective Jim Baxter. Baxter has no clear motivation beyond it being his duty as a cop. He goes from an even keeled detective to one that is overpowered by his emotions without much of an arc. Overall, the characters fall flat and there isn’t even one worth routing for.
Warner Bros. must have instructed Hancock to cut the runtime down. The editing in the first act is atrocious. It’s as if every clip was shorted by 40 or so frames, resulting in pacing that is almost “Bohemian Rhapsody” bad.
If you are interested in streaming a true psychological crime drama skip “The Little Things” and rewatch “Seven” or the first season of “True Detective.”