Big Things for the Big Screen

Review of The Little Things


Source: IMP Awards

An old cop with a troubled past. A young hotshot with his toughest case yet. A serial killer on the loose. Mix these three together and you’ll get the recipe for the 2021 Crime Thriller “The Little Things”.

Set in Los Angeles in the year 1990, the aspects of the film that stand out are the characters, the main actors and their performances, the costume design, the locations, the music, the flashbacks, and the camerawork.

The characters in the film are Joe Deacon, Jim Baxter, and Albert Sparma, played by the great leading men (in order of characters presented) Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto.

Tormented by a case from five years ago, Joe Deacon takes on a new case with partner Jim Baxter in order to catch the serial killer terrorizing the city to bring justice and gain closure.

 In the middle of a meteoric rise, Jim Baxter recruits the help of Joe Deacon in order to solve his most difficult case yet: finding a serial killer. 

Fixated with law enforcement, Albert Sparma is the strange serial killer who’s hard to convict due to the meticulous ways he kills his victims, with little evidence around.

With these characters in action, it creates a suspenseful cat and mouse game from beginning to end with all sorts of chases, traps, and trickery. 

Each actors’ performance is marvelous and for the most part feels as if they really are the characters they are portraying. 

Denzel Washington, with torture in his eyes, slow body movements, and unphased demeanor when faced with intense situations, truly encapsulates an old cop in action.

Rami Malek’s knee-jerk reactions to his environment, witty dialogue, and hurting eyes all create a character still adjusting to the dangers of being a cop.


Strange sayings, erratic behavior, empty eyes: all this and more can describe the psychopath expertly crafted by Jared Leto.  

While these leading men all put on a great performance, there’s only one criticism about Rami Malek: the face he makes when he doesn’t have any dialogue.

While Malek is talking, he sounds like a true cop trying to make a name for himself. When he’s listening, however, he can usually be found making a face that’s a cross between pouting and kissing. 

While this doesn’t take away from the performance he leaves behind, it can be a distraction from the more dramatic scenes in the film.

Moving forward, the costume design of the movie is subtle yet accurate to what people would wear in Los Angeles in 1990. Trading in the flashy colors of the ’80s for more dark tones, it truly depicts the style of the time. 

The locations of the film are also accurate for the time period. With nothing too modern, old cars, televisions, and radio stations on display, the crew kept the movie safe from jumping too far into the future. 

Something that isn’t very close to the time period but still fits the film is the music. Many oldies are played throughout the film to show what Deacon was listening to when he started as a cop.

The songs also add to the scenes and reveal what’s going on or what will happen. An example of this is when Peggy March’s “I Will Follow Him” is playing while Deacon and Baxter are following Sparma.

Aside from actual songs, in multiple scenes suspenseful ambient music is added in order to build tension. The timing for these tracks are perfectly synced to make audience members hang on the edge of their seats for the next thing to strike them. 

Something that is striking are the flashbacks built upon throughout the film. Through these flashbacks, the audience slowly learns what exactly is haunting Deacon about his previous case. 

 Lastly, the camerawork is incredible at revealing just enough information to the audience to make them wonder what is going on constantly throughout the film. 

Overall, this film is nearly flawless. From the plot presented, the characters created, the actor’s performances, the costume design, the locations, the music, the flashbacks, and the camerawork, almost nothing lacks in this film. 

Perhaps Rami Malek could’ve been told to make a different face when inactive, but this doesn’t take away from the film as a whole, an instant classic.