Popcorn Picks: “The Little Things” disappoints despite potential

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Photo credit/ Autumn Bohner

Emma Rushworth, Opinion Editor

One of the first movies from Warner Bros. Studio to come to HBO Max on the same day it hit theaters was “The Little Things”, a psychological thriller with three extraordinary male actors in leading roles. At its premise, this dark film centered on a serial killer who was hunting in Los Angeles in 1990.

Rami Malek plays Detective Jimmy Baxter, a new, young cop searching for the truth while under intense public pressure. Denzel Washington plays Joe Deacon, a former Los Angeles detective who hunted the same killer eluding Baxter. Jared Leto rounds out the cast as Albert Sparma, a suspect in the killings who describes himself as a fan of crime.

Despite this star-studded cast, there is little else to this movie that is redeemable. At first glance, viewers expect to follow a crime story, where the cops will come together with their different perspectives on this killer and catch them before anyone else gets hurt. However, this is not where the movie goes at all.

Unfortunately, the movie spends way too much time on side plots that don’t have much significance to the main plot of the movie, two cops trying to catch a killer. Deviations include focusing on Deacon’s failed marriage, his dying career, and why he left the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. If the movie was focusing solely on Deacon and his story trying to redeem his career or his life, these wouldn’t be out of place or as annoying as they ended up being.

The movie is paced incredibly slow. Normally in a crime movie, the discovery of a new body or a clue drives the plot forward. Most of the movie seems stagnant, stuck at the moment before a major plot point without ever actually getting there. The detectives also use less than legal means to attempt to get answers. This small detail isn’t completely unrealistic though, as the LAPD was notorious for questionable methods, especially in the 1990s.

One high point for the movie is Jared Leto’s performance. As is common for the actor, Leto underwent a huge transformation into his character, who is supposed to be a creepy suspect who happens to be fascinated with crime. His transformation was so incredible that I did not notice it was Leto portraying the character in the trailer. Leto did an amazing job making the viewers feel incredibly uneasy each time he graced the screen, and this only further assured the audience that he had to be the killer they were searching for.

The ending was also extremely unsatisfying. Again, with a typical crime drama, one would expect an ending similar to that in real life: the killer being caught and brought to justice. However, the movie runs off the rails in the third act, with both Baxter and Deacon covering up a murder, something we learn Deacon has done before. Viewers are left wondering if Sparma is actually the killer, and when some sort of definitive closure is given, it’s ripped away in a manner that seems forced and sloppy.

Overall, I wouldn’t waste your time watching “The Little Things”. There are few redeeming qualities to merit spending money in a theater or on an HBO Max subscription. Other movies that are in a similar genre or style have been done better, as this movie had great potential and ultimately was a letdown.

Rating: 2.5/5 kernels

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