In the opening scene of the bleak serial killer thriller The little thingsA faceless hunter rivets and terrorizes a young woman. Turning to the dark side is a good start for writer / director John Lee Hancock. Unfortunately, it’s also the best moment in the film.
From those first minutes The little things is a more than two hour futile exercise, a slow motion display of deteriorating returns with an unfulfilled ending and potential residue dripping from its bloated carcass.
Though Hancock is best known for carefree dishes like The blind side, The newcomer, and Rescue Mr. BanksIt is clear that with The little things He tries to recreate the eerie, gloomy, dirty atmosphere of David Fincher seven.
The problem is twofold: Hancock is not a fincher, and The little things is a bad imitation of the celebrated serial killer spectacle.
Not for want of trying. Denzel Washington delivers the kind of performance you’d expect from Denzel Washington, even if his character is as routine and uninteresting as it gets. Washington pretends to know that writing has problems; He does his best to add small nuances and mannerisms to improve the material, but in the end it’s a powerful actor who visibly hits the boundaries of his character.
Co-Oscar winner Rami Malek is now more defeatist. Malek gives arguably the worst performance of his career, a frustratingly boring and straightforward line when the film practically asks him to do anything but do anything. Hancock’s script does him a disservice, but it does The little things Ultimately meant to revolve around Malek’s ethical and moral journey, it’s a miss on all fronts.
Jared Leto is also in the film, essentially playing Kevin Spacey’s role in seven minus the charism. Leto is fine, but Hancock again straddles him with a promising role – who doesn’t want to play creepy, psychotic, and methodical? [alleged] Killer in a movie with Denzel Washington? – but is not going anywhere.
And that is the underlying problem with The little things;; it suggests bigger things but never gets there. The movie’s opening scene is great and for a while while the detectives dive into LA’s belly trying to get closer to the truth, the tension lingers. But as the story progresses, the dirty little things add up … and your attention will inevitably wander. At over two hours, the second half of the film is a surprisingly boring affair. And if you think the ending has enough clout to make the wait worth the wait, think again. Hancock’s conclusion is disappointing and undeserved, arguably a bold misfire that drops the film from just mediocre to something much worse.
The little things starts out promising, but quickly loses sight of what makes serial killer films effective; Even Denzel Washington cannot save this stinking corpse.
Rating by Erik Samdahl, unless otherwise stated.