Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
The Little Things
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Written by John Lee Hancock
Neo-noir crime thrillers are often overly melodramatic or too slow of a burn with the suspense. This film actually hold a steady pulse and gives enough tension to bite your nails. Single writer and director on this could have been a mess of a film, but the story is handled well for the most part, but one scene change-up could take this film to another level.
Here comes the spoilers.
The film opens with a young woman being followed late at night on a deserted highway. She pulls into a gas station that is unattended and runs off into the desert to get away form the person in pursuit. She runs back into the highway stopping a truck driver. Cut to a small town police station where a call for evidence pickup comes in and they send Deputy Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington) to Los Angeles to pick it up. He is reluctant as he has a history with the LA County Sheriffs Department. His arrival at the station is met with mixed reactions. Some people welcoming to see him and others upset at his presence. While there a new detective , Jimmy Baxter (Rami Malek), is briefing the press about a series of murders and possible connections. Jimmy knows that Deacon used to be a great detective so he asks if he would come along to a murder scene. Deacon quickly notices the M.O of the murder matches an old serial killer case he was unable to solve. Deacon then takes vacation time to stay around and assist on the case. Jimmy hears from other detectives that Deacon got a divorce and suffered a heart attack due to his obsession to solve the old case. He is advised to not involve Deacon, but Deacon quickly proves to be unto a suspect. A creepy man, Albert Sparma, played by Jared Leto to perfection. A cat and mouse game ensues and the tension is just right. The line between Sparma being the killer or just a obsessive fan of the killer gets blurred.
The two detectives start to bend and break protocols and laws in order to prove that Sparma is the killer. Obsession takes over everyone in the film and that is where this film really shines. Baxter goes form cool and controlled to unnerved and frantic. Deacon stays steady on his intuition and never falters. His obsession was set in stone years ago. Sparma is obsessed now in playing the detectives and toying with them because he knows the system and how their protocols work. This become dangerous as Baxter takes a huge risk and breaks procedure by getting in the car with Sparma as he promises to take him to the bodies.
I don’t want to continue with spoilers as this film is really a solid film to watch. The ending is just about the only thing the film needed to change. Let’s first take the hints or red herrings; roast beef sign next to where Sparma worked, and Busch beer in fridge. Sparma could not have known these details as they were spoken over phone calls not radio dispatch. He fit their profile to a “T’. The past false confession leads you to believe he is toying with the police, but another possibility is he was hiding in plain sight. Here is how I would’ve written the end scene; At the burn barrel Deacon throws in the last bag of evidence to cover tracks. Deacon reveals as he does in the film that he sent the red barrette to Baxter to alleviate him of the anguish of getting their suspect so he can continue with a clear conscience unlike himself. Yet Deacon lives with the fact that he still hasn’t found the killer and stares off into the sunset as the dogs approaches him to comfort him. Lonely, tired, and defeated. The shot comes back to the burn barrel and a burning book opens up and a red barrette is revealed. End credits. This doesn’t definitely prove that Sparma was the killer, but would keep the guessing game going well beyond the end credits. Which a great film will do.
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