Denzel Washington and Jared Leto in “The Little Things.” Credit: Nicola Goode/Warner Bros

Can This True-Crime Drama Match the Competition?

Within the archives of Netflix — or most streaming platforms for that matter, one will find hosts of movies in the true crime category. You probably have watched many of them yourself. They were at the height of their popularity twenty to thirty years ago. What then makes John Lee Hancock’s new addition to the genre, “The Little Things” stand above the crowd? Honestly, not much. However, that’s not to say it isn’t worth a watch.

The synopsis is what one would expect from films of this ilk; a washed-up detective (Denzel Washington) becomes pulled into a case with connections to his dark past by a young detective (Rami Malek) eager to prove himself. Things become more complicated when they only have circumstantial evidence proving the guilt of their prime suspect (Jared Leto). This is where it can be said the film deviates from its traditional contemporaries, which are more interested in a straightforward catch-the-killer narrative. It isn’t really about that, but instead, focuses on a character study of the two men caught up in the whirlwind of the case. This may be its saving grace. With three critically acclaimed actors at the helm, it will be an instant must-see for that reason alone. Washington, Malek and Leto play off each other’s characters in admiral fashion that will keep you intrigued long enough to see how it all pans out. 

That being said, viewers follow these characters through a turgid and slow-paced plot which can’t quite decide if it is about the little things, as the title implies, or the big twists that it takes too long to reveal. Twists that would have hit harder if the lead up hadn’t been so weak. Suffice to say, the ending may be enough to make this movie worthwhile as you debate with friends about what conclusion you arrived at and why.

Written and set in the 1990s, it almost feels like a time capsule to that era of film. With the dark atmosphere and lighting, it will lead to instant comparisons to the likes of “Seven,” (1995) and “Zodiac,” (2007), two movies that pull off their premises with much more artistry. For that reason, it may feel dated to some and there isn’t much argument against that criticism. In the end, whether or not you end up liking this movie will come down to personal preference. Would you like to watch a trope-filled true-crime drama? If so, then you will find yourself right at home. If not, then the only thing carrying you to the end, if you even make it that far, will be the performances of the all-star cast.

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