The Little Things hits select theaters and HBO Max on January 29, 2021

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the little things first look
Credit: Nicola Goode/Warner Bros.

Denzel Washington and Rami Malek unite to hunt down a dangerous killer in The Little Things.

PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at the upcoming psychological thriller, in which Washington's Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe "Deke" Deacon and Malek's Sergeant Jim Baxter try to find the man responsible for several murders around Los Angeles.

The movie will hit select theaters and HBO Max on January 29, 2021.

The Little Things follows as Washington's Deke is sent to L.A. for a simple evidence-gathering mission. But the deputy sheriff becomes intricately involved in a murder investigation led by Malek's Baxter, who unofficially appoints Deke to help out. As the investigation dredges up more and more from Deke's past, the two must work together as secrets are uncovered that could threaten more than just the case.

Details about Leto's role have been kept under wraps, but the actor is excited for fans to discover the mystery.

"It’s a classic thriller with a surprise ending that’s filled with suspense and mystery. I think people will have a lot of fun watching Little Things. It takes you on a ride," Leto tells PEOPLE.

"Working with two Oscar winners was a dream," he adds. "Denzel Washington is my Brando. He’s an absolute legend and a force of nature. Rami is remarkable. One of my favorite actors around and both were an absolute pleasure."

the little things first look
Credit: Nicola Goode/Warner Bros.

Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) is just as excited for fans to dive into the story he wrote 28 years ago.

"I wrote The Little Things in 1992, 1993, so it’s been with me a long time," he tells PEOPLE. "It’s a thriller with cops hunting a killer, but unlike most of that genre, things unravel instead of coming together in the third act. I think moviegoers will appreciate the unexpected twists and turns of the story, the themes as well as the plot and, of course, the outstanding performances by Denzel, Rami and Jared, as well as the rest of the cast."

Now armed with a star-studded cast, the director is happier than ever for his movie to finally hit the screen.

"As I said, this movie was a long time coming — 28 years since I first thought it up," he says. "It was almost made two or three times in the past. I can honestly say that I’m glad it didn’t happen until now because this cast is absolutely perfect for the story I wanted to tell. These three actors are all immensely talented, and they all have different approaches to the work. Even though their work habits were different, they were all respectful of each other, as persons and artists, and meshed well."

The Little Things hits select theaters and HBO Max on January 29, 2021.