This has got to be the most pretentious crime thriller of all times. Borrowing from classics of the genre like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown and David Fincher’s Seven, director John Hancock seems to repose incommensurate trust in the two lead players to see the narrative across its gaping plot-holes.
Alas, it doesn’t happen that way. Denzel Washington who has worked in some of the finest films in our times, cannot save this one from being a near-disaster. As for Rami Malek, this Egyptian actor has not impressed me much in any of his screen outings. He teams up with Washington as two police officers investigating a series of brutal murders in Los Angeles, in the 1990s. Why a murder mystery in the 90s? No one has a clue.
Right from the outset, the pair of cop heroes seems ill-matched and awkward in each other’s company. Initially, this could be explained by the fact that the duo did not know one another from before. However, as they proceed to become partners in crime-busting they still look as though they would rather be anywhere else. So would we.
The screenplay has enough loopholes to cover an entire stadium ground. It starts with a semi-bang with a prologue of a scared fleeing girl straight out of a slasher film. By the time the serial killings warm up the plot is choking for breath. The interrogations of the suspects appear to be indifferently used to intersperse the two cop hero's limp interactive synergy. We are given fleeting glances of their home life. But it all seems planted, made-up.
Midway through the film the interesting Jared Leto emerges as the prime suspect. One would think the plot would finally liven up. Instead, the absurdities get even more frequent. In one sequence Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) invites the prime suspect out of his home so that his partner Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) could look through the suspect’s home for evidence. Instead of being with the suspect to ensure he doesn’t return before Deacon is done, Baxter sits in the car below as Deacon ransacks the suspect’s home.
The climax is a howl and a hoot. Baxter is made to dig holes in barren farmland by the prime suspect in the promise of finding the body of a victim. As he digs one hole after another I wonder how Rami Malik who plays Baxter kept a straight face. As the camera moves back for an aerial shot of those holes I could only see the shot as a metaphor for the plot’s gaping holes.
The Little Things ends with Washington sending Malik a red barrette presumably belonging to a murder victim, when the fact is, they are still not sure if their prime suspect is the actual murderer.
Do we care? Do even the actors care? I hope Washington and Malik got paid well for standing around pretending to take the dead plot seriously. I was stifled by the sheer phoniness of this arty slasher, haha, thriller.
Directed by John Hancock, The Little Things gets 2 stars.
Image source: Instagram/ramimalekonline, Youtube/WarnerBrosPictures, IMDb
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