Denzel is back. In his first film since 2018! The Little Things is in cinemas here in Australia and it is a very welcome return for Mr. Washington.
The last film he starred in was The Equalizer 2, a fairly good action movie where he played an ex-agent turned vigilante (more or less). In this latest movie Washington plays deputy sheriff Joe Deacon.
Deacon seems to be avoiding his past, when he was a highly respected detective in Los Angeles. But when he visits his old stomping ground to collect evidence (pertaining to a case in his new jurisdiction) he becomes intrigued by the similarities of recent murders to an old unsolved case he had investigated.
The film has two other main characters. One is detective Jimmy Baxter played by Rami Malek – famous for looking like Freddie Mercury (and indeed playing him in Bohemian Rhapsody). At first I was unconvinced by Malek and thought the role didn’t suit him. But he seemed to grow into the role and got better as the film went on.
The main suspect is a Charles Manson-like loner called Albert Sparma, excellently played by Jared Leto.
Deacon is haunted by his past and there are subtle flashbacks to a time when he worked for the same department as Jimmy Baxter. Meanwhile Baxter is the new college kid on the block trying to make a name for himself. The two team up after Baxter finds out who Deacon is. Baxter has heard a lot about Deacon and asks him to accompany him to a crime scene, hoping he may spot something.
Baxter is investigating a serial killer whose latest crime resembles an old case that Deacon worked on – a case that still haunts him. Whatever happened in the past cost Deacon his marriage, a heart attack and his (apparent) demotion. Deacon sees similarities in the recent killings with an old case he worked and wants to help. He is advised not to get involved so takes some vacation time in order to make his own enquiries. This leads him to Sparma who works for a local repair store close to several of the murders.
The cautious and cunning Sparma is soon onto Deacon and a classic game of cat and mouse ensues. Soon, Deacon convinces Baxter that Sparma is their man. But desperate to get the required evidence the duo effectively end up stalking their suspect.
It is hard to say much about the movie without giving too much away. The ending reminded me of that 1990s movie Seven. There were definitely some similarities.
The latest girl to disappear is described as wearing a big red “barrette” (which I did not know is a type of hair clip) and this makes an appearance right at the end. But with a clever little twist.
Deacon has been through the trauma of overworking a case and can see that Baxter is in danger of sliding down the same path. His constant warnings go unheeded however leading to the final outcome.
The earlier comparison to Seven was referring to the ending but could equally apply to the two main detective characters and even the main suspect. That said any comparisons are a little unfair as this movie has a good story of its own. I also made the Manson comparison which is not unknown for bad guys in this type of story. When you see the movie you will not be able to shake that one out of your head – and for that I apologise. It does not detract from Leto’s performance however.
The reason for Deacon’s apparent demotion from detective to local sheriff’s office is kept under wraps until near the end so the suspense and anticipation remains throughout.
This is a decent movie with a good performance that we have come to expect from Denzel Washington. There is an average performance by Malik and a very convincing performance by Leto. Overall I would give this movie 3.5 stars (out of 5).
It is a dark crime thriller (film noir?) that manages to keep you on the edge of your seat for the most part. Worth watching.