Explaining The Ending Of Denzel Washington’s The Little Things

The Little Things

Warner Bros. might well end up changing the face of cinema forever after making the decision to release their entire slate of 2021 movies on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters, but while the focus has been firmly placed on effects-heavy epics like Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune, the platform’s first major simultaneous release of the year was much more unassuming.

Denzel Washington’s The Little Things debuted yesterday, and viewers at least appear to be enjoying it much more than critics, with reviews being lukewarm at best. Director John Lee Hancock wrote the script all the way back in 1993, and you can certainly tell, with the final product coming off as derivative and uninspired for the most part while simultaneously being reminiscent of many superior films including David Fincher’s Se7en, despite three solid performances from Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto.

We’ve seen countless crime thrillers where a veteran cop with a troubled and mysterious past teams up with a younger officer to try and crack a case they both have a personal interest in, but The Little Things hugely deviates from formula when it gets to the third act. The middle of the story sees Washington’s Deke and Malek’s Jim convinced that Leto’s unsettling Albert Sparma is the prime suspect for the series of murders they’ve been investigating, although they can’t find any substantial evidence.

The Little Things

Sparma taunts Jim by claiming he knows where the bodies are hidden, so they drive out into the desert, only for the latter to accidentally kill him in a fit of rage. Deke shows up on the scene, and the two cops orchestrate a cover up, but they still don’t find anything that can incriminate the deceased.

Taking charge of the situation, Deke tells Jim to go home, later sending him a package that contains what looks like a key piece of evidence. However, The Little Things closes with the reveal that it was part of the cover up, with Deke sending the red barrette to Jim in the hopes that it brings him closure and doesn’t end up with the rising detective becoming tortured by his past, something that’s informed Deke’s arc throughout the entire movie.