The Little Things (Blu-ray Review)

The Little Things came and went as a blip on the HBO Max radar earlier this year.  Middling reviews, and some tepid audience response made things a little interesting for me.  A 90’s throwback thriller with some twists, and a dynamite main cast had me wondering if there was just a lost audience for a good movie. Discover my findings in the review below and click the paid link at the end if you feel so inclined to make a buy!



Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington) is sent to Los Angeles for what should have been a quick evidence-gathering assignment. Instead, he becomes embroiled in the search for a killer who is terrorizing the city. Leading the hunt, L.A. Sheriff Department Sergeant Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), impressed with Deke’s cop instincts, unofficially engages his help. But as they track the killer, Baxter is unaware that the investigation is dredging up echoes of Deke’s past, uncovering disturbing secrets that could threaten more than his case.

The synopsis sells the hell out of this movie. I was all in before I even saw a trailer for the film. Based on the trailer alone I was ready to sit down and get caught up in that good thriller feeling.  As one of my favorite genres that nowadays seems long forgotten, I was so refreshed to see someone wanted to revive a style of film I have missed for so long.  Did I mention the cast?! Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and a possibly dangerous killer in Jared Leto? Absolutely… Well, allow me to explain my thoughts…

Yuck.  I can’t even begin to tell you just how unsettled and disappointed I was by the finished product.  Director/Writer John Lee Hancock has a track record for making some good genre fair, being flexible in writingMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, or sweet family dramadies like The Blind Side or Saving Mr. Banks. Here he writes and directs almost as if he was asleep.  The characters are just there, hitting with a thud.  There are many flashbacks in the film, to a time they never describe and going back to a scene over and over that doesn’t make any sense, even when you finally find out what’s going on. Characters come and go, lazily waltzing across the screen.

Pacing is yet another issue. The movie runs just over two hours, and that time feels like a task to get through.  I found myself having to revisit certain scenes because I nodded off in my initial viewing.  Thankfully my husband watches all the movies I review with me, so he can help out if I miss a detail… His commentary: “This movie is S$%t! How could they waste Denzel like this… is he sleepwalking?!” I couldn’t agree more.  Washington takes the role and remains mostly quiet the whole film. One scene involves him becoming enraged and it’s one of the few moments of fire in the whole film.  Rami Malek has even less to do, with a co-lead role that feels like it was created just to give Hancock a chance to work with him.  The only actor who seems to have any fun in the film is Leto who gives his creepy character a totally invested performance.

The production design is notable for how it takes pieces of other thrillers’ designs and plants them in place for reminders of better films. There is also a phoned-in Thomas Newman score that has a couple of moments of misplaced happiness that I found odd.  I also question, how does a film waste the great Thomas Newman?! This film does, so I guess that’s how.

The last thing I’ll mention is all of the films this one tried to emulate, that just reminded me of all the classic and not so classic thrillers that I love.  I saw traces of Seven, Silence of the Lambs, Zodiac, Copycat… I could truly keep going… I truly wanted to find things to love about this movie, but aside from Leto’s embodiment of his character, this one is a snooze.


  • Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Layers: BD-50
  • Clarity/Detail: Presented on HBO Max in 4K and Dolby Vision, I have no doubt that the lackluster reception of the film halted a 4K Disc release for the film. Despite my dislike for the movie, this is a great looking 1080p transfer.  There is no discounting that the film does contain a good thriller/noir look, and that helps things from a visual standpoint.  Details are sharp as can be, and there is no softness to be seen anywhere.
  • Depth: The film spends a lot of time in the dark and in dark spaces. Characters and their surrounds all pop with good movement and spacing. I did catch myself noticing things in bright daylight scenes that some other films might not have showcased as nicely.  I definitely can’t complain about the look of the film depth wise.
  • Black Levels: Blacks are done right by this film. As a primarily night-time film, this one looks good in the dark.  No crush, greying or any other anomaly accompanies this transfer.
  • Color Reproduction: The cover of the film shows some neon colors, but the palette here is mostly cool and dark, reproduced faithfully. Daytime scenes are bright and mostly beige, and a little warmer, and the difference there makes this one fairly distinctive.  There aren’t a lot of super colorful moments in the film though, so don’t expect anything dreamy color wise.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones in light and dark look nice and even and as intended.
  • Noise/Artifacts: None


  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish
  • Dynamics: Dynamically, this is a fairly reserved mix for a new film. This isn’t a movie of bombastic sound, so you can find some good things in the quiet moments. As a dialogue driven film, the key is hearing the actors speak, and you get that dialed in perfectly.  Music is spaced all over the sound field, and surrounds are used more subtly than outward and out loud.
  • Low Frequency Extension: For the spare moments of bass driven music, or maybe a gunshot or two, the subwoofer does its thing as complimentarily as it can. Don’t expect an active sub channel and you’ll be pleased.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The film has a very subtle surround sound presence. Overall, subtle ambience and off camera noise fills these channels. Nothing dynamic, but the subtlety is nice.  Music can pop up in the rears as well at times.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is the main driving force for this film and it’s perfectly intelligible.


The Little Things arrives on Blu-ray with a digital copy and a slipcover in the initial pressing, along with two piddly featurettes that aren’t really much at all.

  • Four Shades of Blue(9:22) – A Piece on Denzel Washington, and some of his much better films involving him playing a police officer or detective. Film critics are on hand to weigh in, and it’s an OK extra.
  • A Contrast In Styles(7:54) – Centered on the film itself, this extra contains interview pieces from the leads, director and producer.  If you liked the film, this would be interesting. Since I didn’t, I just kind of sat through it.


I tried. I really tried to like this one.  I just didn’t. I couldn’t.  I feel like this whole film was just a giant waste of talent. I wish I could say I recommend it but I can’t and won’t.  Maybe rent it? Maybe wait for HBO Max to put it back on their app… Or skip it completely…

  1. No Comments