FILM REVIEW | The Little Things

Crime whodunnits can make for great cinema - if done right.

The trouble is, so many great detective stories have already been told really, really well, so it's difficult to come up with something fresh.

Denzel Washington's latest, The Little Things, isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, it's just a bit disappointing.

The film, written and directed by The Blind Side's John Lee Hancock, feels like several other movies of the genre.

Its atmosphere is reminiscent of David Fincher classic Zodiac while the antagonist is a little like John Doe in Fincher's Se7en - though The Little Things is not as good as either of those.

If you haven't seen those films, The Little Things might come across more accomplished than it does for those who are familiar with Fincher's work.

The story sees Washington's cop character Joe Deacon sent on an errand to his former town, where he was a detective.

Denzel Washington and Jared Leto star in The Little Things, rated M, in cinemas now. Picture: Warner Bros

Denzel Washington and Jared Leto star in The Little Things, rated M, in cinemas now. Picture: Warner Bros

While there, he learns of a murder that has remarkable similarities to a case from his past - one that he has never been able to shake.

Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) stars as the initially prickly lead detective on the case, who soon welcomes Deacon's insights.

They lead to the highly suspicious Albert Sparma (a highly creepy Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club) and even more questions.

What the film highly succeeds at achieving is a sense of tension and discomfort, especially in the nightmare-inducing opening scene.

But the storytelling lets The Little Things down in the end.

There's lots of promise, but the payoff doesn't hit as it should, especially not in the current global climate.

Without giving too much away, there is some questionable police behaviour on show.

Law enforcement colouring outside the lines just isn't acceptable anymore, and the film seems like it's trying to address that, but it doesn't really succeed.

Maybe The Little Things would have worked better as a fourth season of True Detective than as a standalone film. More red herrings could have been introduced, and Deacon's past could have been explored further.

Despite the failings with the script, the acting - from three Oscar winners at that - is great, especially the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild-nominated supporting performance from Leto.

Rating: 6/10