The 2021 Denzel Washington Thriller That's Topping Netflix Charts Right Now

During the pandemic, most of us apparently watched Chris Hemsworth's actioner "Extraction" more than anything else, with the 2020 film becoming the most popular Netflix original movie at the time. But I remember being much more excited for "The Little Things."

This neo-noir crime thriller from writer-director John Lee Hancock seemed to have it all — especially if you happened to be a '90s kid with fond memories of "Seven." The trailer for "The Little Things" promised Denzel Washington in full jaded cop mode as Kern County Sheriff's Office deputy Joe Deacon, tracking down a serial killer in early-'90s Los Angeles with the help of a much younger, idealistic L.A. cop in the form of Rami Malek's James Baxter. It might have sounded a tad formulaic, but I'll take any noir-tinged thriller promising to give us a peek under California's carapace and reveal the seedy underworld therein. Plus, Denzel would surely help elevate the whole affair.

Unfortunately, when "The Little Things" premiered in theaters and on HBO Max (now just MAX) in January 2021, it just couldn't quite deliver. It looked great, and Denzel managed to pull off his trick of remaining quiet and broody throughout while also exuding as much charisma as is humanly possible. Hancock, meanwhile, had clearly tried to do something different with the final act. But I, and many critics, just felt that "The Little Things" came off as much more predictable than the director had originally intended.

That must have been particularly rough for Hancock since the man had been trying to get his script produced since the early '90s and had finally made it happen. Now, however, after "The Little Things" very much came and went upon its debut, the film is back thanks to the Netflix effect.

Netflix viewers are paying close attention to The Little Things

"The Little Things" had a lot of potential, which made its failure to connect back in 2021 even more disappointing. But, when logging onto Netflix recently and seeing the movie plastered across the home screen, I felt a pang of fondness for John Lee Hancock's forgotten crime thriller that never quite connected. I also thought, given the way in which Netflix has a tendency to resurrect similarly forgotten films and give them a new life, "I'll be writing about that this week, then."

Now, here we are. "The Little Things" has indeed been given new life on Netflix and it's a full-on renaissance. According to streaming data aggregator FlixPatrol, Hancock's neo-noir has been dominating the streamer's charts since its debut on the platform on April 1, 2024, sitting at number one the entire time. At the time of writing, "The Little Things" remains at the top of the charts, followed closely by M. Night Shyamalan's 2016 "Unbreakable" sequel, "Split."

Whether Denzel and co. can keep Shyamalan from taking number one for the rest of the week remains as unclear as the ending of "The Little Things" itself. But let's hope the crime thriller that couldn't quite get things done the first time around manages to get a few more days at number one. Hancock might have failed to bring the dream of the '90s to life in 2021, but he gave it a good go, and the film is certainly far more deserving of the number one spot on Netflix than Kevin Hart's "Lift,"