Joe Deacon (Washington) is a disgraced former Los Angeles cop who now works in Bakersfield, living alone on the fringes of society. Our story takes place in 1990 for few reasons other than the proximity of The Night Stalker case, which still hangs in the air when a new serial killer emerges in the City of Angels (and “The Little Things” would have been originally written a quarter of a century ago, which might explain why it looks so similar to the boilers of that era). It is revealed that ‘Deke’ lost his marriage, had a heart attack, and had to leave town due to a particularly brutal case he was unable to resolve. He’s haunted and unwanted by his former colleagues, including Captain Carl Farris (Terry Kinney) and Detective Sal Rizoli (Chris Bauer), but Deke finds himself sucked into what nearly destroyed him when he ends up helping his substitute, Jim Baxter (Rami Malek)) with the serial killer affair that terrifies the city. Soon after, they discover that a loner named Albert Sparma (Jared Leto) is their likely suspect, and “The Little Things” becomes a cat-and-mouse game between the two detectives and the creepiest guy in LA, a disturbing character who seems to be playing games with the cops.
The first third of “The Little Things” has an effective procedural quality as Baxter senses whether or not the legendary Joe Deacon can help him solve the case of his life. Of course, there is an inherent new-school versus old-school component to the storytelling that is reminiscent of “Seven” and provides a vision for Baxter’s future in the emotionally devastated Deacon. The older cop is literally haunted by the victims, seeing them in the middle of the night in his seedy hotel room. The idea that a cop can be so invested in a case that he destroys them gives Washington a lot of work, but it’s ultimately superficial here because of how little we know of the victims – they’re just ghosts and nothing more. Aside from Natalie Morales underutilized as an officer and Michael Hyatt as a coroner, women are largely just victims or spouses in the background of this story.
The middle section of “The Little Things” goes through the immediacy of Washington’s performance. As Leto bustles around, Washington grounds everything he does, creating an interrogation and even a bit of an interrogation scene in which Sparma mocks him on a more efficient road than they would have been in his hands. of a minor actor. Washington has incredible skill when it comes to being in the moment. We believe he listens, reacts and responds in ways that don’t sound like repeated cries or blocked behavior. The opposite is true for Leto, who seems incapable lately of doing anything that doesn’t seem like overkill, and is addressing all of his worst tendencies here. Malek sits somewhere in the middle, feeling too eccentric at first, but he got better as the movie progressed or I just got used to his ways. Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Washington is in a more entrenched film than its co-stars. He’s trying to do “Zodiac” while they do “Along Came a Spider.”