Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A haunted older cop on the verge of retirement teams up with a hot-tempered young detective to hunt down a creepy celebrity playing a serial killer who likes a bit of a flourish in his crime scenes. In The Little Things, Rami Malek as Brad Pitt is as fascinating as ever, Jared Leto as Kevin Spacey is unintentionally hilarious, and Denzel is Denzel. John Lee Hancock’s last movie, The Highwaymen, told its story from a unique angle, using a couple of seasoned actors doing their thing, in a period piece with a lot of keenly observed detail and some gratifying gun porn. So what happened here? Hancock’s ham-handed script and even more ham-handed direction — you couldn’t edit a car chase any worse than this movie’s excuse for a car chase — make it hard to just enjoy the cast. It’s quite the turgid movie that doesn’t come alive until Jared Leto is onscreen, but that’s just because he’s so darn unusual. But, hey, at least something interesting is finally happening. I call it the Crispin Glover Effect.
The Little Things is such an aimless mish-mash of cop vs serial killer tropes that it only keeps you guessing because it’s unclear what it’s even trying to do. Is this a buddy cop movie? Is it a horror movie? Is it a homicide procedural? Is it a mystery? A thriller? A parody of James Patterson? Something that Morgan Freeman passed on? How about none of the above by virtue of all of the above? When the Obligatory Shocking Final Twist thuds into place with all the grace of a body rolled into a shallow grave, it turns out you were watching something else entirely. The Little Things is ultimately a story about how the police sometimes have to cover their asses because, well, they’re the police and we should really cut them some slack if they can’t be bothered to follow rules and stuff. Hey, John Lee Hancock, try reading the room. Or alternatively, try paying closer attention to what made David Fincher’s masterpiece tick. Because this Seven is barely a Two.