The Little Things (M) - 128 minutes
The names are big, the action is slow and the outcome is always in doubt in the crime drama The Little Things.
It is October 1990.
A case in Los Angeles five years earlier involving the murders of three young women found naked with their heads covered in plastic was never solved and the serial killer remains on the loose.
But it did cost lead detective Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) his job, his marriage and his sanity.
Burnt out, he has since gone to pasture as a Sheriff’s Deputy in Kern County, a couple of hundred kilometres away.
He lives a relatively quiet life with only a dog for company.
Suddenly another murder with parallels to the first three appears and Deke’s captain sends him back to LA to bring home the evidence.
There, in spite of wanting to keep his head down, he is welcomed by some and distanced by others.
At first among the latter is the guy who replaced him – Homicide Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) – who is determined to solve the crime.
But unable to make headway, Baxter soon invites Deke to tag along, as yet another bloody murder goes down.
Deke takes leave from his job in Kern County to try to put an end to his own obsession in drawing down the shutters on the cases that have continued to plague him, now driven by these new developments.
He zeroes in on a crime-obsessed loner – Albert Sparta (Jared Leto) – who frequents strip clubs.
Sparta is no friend of cops and leads Deke and more particularly Baxter – who is under increasing pressure to find the perpetrator – on a merry dance.
At 2 hours 8 minutes, The Little Things is a long film that could have benefited from some prudent pruning.
As I indicated at the outset, nothing happens at pace.
Writer and director John Lee Hancock (Blind Side) draws matters out unnecessarily – gradually teasing out Deke’s back story in the process – and, I dare say, many will be disappointed with the outcome.
Washington is his reliable self, even if he doesn’t set the screen alight.
Jared Leto does eccentric well and so it is here. He has the showiest role.
Rami Malek, who lacks spark and, for the most part, has an expressionless face, looks out of place opposite Washington.
To me the dynamic between them was lacking.
Overall, I saw The Little Things as offering up a mixed bag – intriguing to a point, but not entirely satisfying.
Rated M, it scores a 6 out of 10.