Marty McKee’s review published on Letterboxd:
THE LITTLE THINGS is a cop thriller set in 1990, and if it had been released in 1990, it likely would have topped the box office for at least a month. Denzel Washington (an Oscar winner for playing a cop in TRAINING DAY) and Rami Malek (an Oscar winner for playing Queen’s lead singer in BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY) team up to catch a serial killer. They’re a typically mismatched pair — Malek a young college-graduated by-the-book hotshot, Washington a disgraced Homicide dick demoted to deputy sheriff in a quiet county up north.
Through some hard-to-swallow coincidences, Washington — down in L.A. to run a routine errand for his boss (Glenn Morshower) — ends up following Malek to the scene of the latest murder, which he determines is similar to a string of prostitute killings he was unable to solve back in the day. Director John Lee Hancock (THE BLIND SIDE) set his screenplay in 1990 for no discernible reason except it’s a lot easier to make the detectives’ investigation harder when they have no internet, no cell phones, no GPS technology in their toolbox. An obvious David Fincher fan, Hancock’s slow-burn approach to the clue-hunting and his use of period oldies on the soundtrack deflect the cliched story and dialogue (yes, the villain says to the cop, you know we’re a lot alike, you and I).
The material isn’t enough to interest Washington, a great actor and even greater presence, who is running at about 65% here. Even a low-watt Washington outshines Malek, who looks lost in his co-star’s presence, and Jared Leto (SUICIDE SQUAD), hammy as a greasy-haired suspect with Bugliosi’s HELTER SKELTER on his bookshelf and not interested in creating a believable character.