Thursday, January 28, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Little Things

The Little Things
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Released January 29, 2021 (Theaters and HBO Max)

Investigating dark, violent crimes can have deep psychological effects on a person. Even if their personal lives are far removed from the content and events they see during their workdays, the insight into the way that those who perpetrate vicious acts view the world can be infectious and corrosive. Similarly, there can be predictive assumptions made about a person’s circumstances or behavior to fit a particular profile that cast suspicion on them for things they may or may not have done. Even if timelines are contradictory and alibis place them elsewhere, who and what they are simply won’t allow them to escape the focus of investigations.

Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) works in the sheriff’s department in Bakersfield, California, and is sent down on a routine assignment to Los Angeles. When he arrives, he meets Detective Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), whose approach to policework is different but who quickly sees that Deacon has an eye for detail that can greatly assist him as he investigates a series of disappearances and murders of young women. After Deacon is ordered to return home and Baxter is warned not to work with this loose cannon, the two continue working off-book, their sights firmly set on one suspect: Albert Sparma (Jared Leto).

This is a slow-burn period police thriller set in the 1990s, utilizing payphones as its primary source of suspense building as Deacon and Baxter stage secretive operations that are mildly illegal and that couldn’t possibly be pulled off with the existence of modern technology. The pattern of irresponsible choices and subversion of clearly-expressed protocol is less timeless, indicative of cops who believe that the removal of dangerous elements from the streets justifies any actions they must take in pursuit of an arrest and conviction. As a result, its trajectory becomes all too familiar.

Casting Malek as the younger, more bright-eyed law enforcement official who hasn’t yet become numb to the brutality he encounters is a peculiar choice since he is best known for his award-winning roles in “Mr. Robot” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” two more distinctive characters who provided him with richer frameworks and arcs. Washington is a more suitable fit, though he doesn’t seem to be trying too hard here, and the same goes for Leto, who is enjoying himself too much for the dark tone of this film. Its plot twists are ultimately quite predictable, and this film isn’t able to achieve the dramatic impact of past successes like “Se7en” for which it so clearly seems to strive.


No comments: