My only knowledge of Destroyer before seeing it was that it had Nicole Kidman looking very different from her norm and that it was a cop movie. Nicole Kidman plays Erin Bell, a grizzled LAPD Detective who has certainly had it rough. I feel like it’s a fresh take on the “cop with a mission to avenge murdered partner” trope.
Directed by Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux, Jennifer’s Body), it’s an engaging gritty crime thriller with beautiful cinematography and immersive soundtrack. The film follows Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman), a hardened detective haunted by the decisions she made in a past stint working undercover for the FBI.
Destroyer opens with Detective Erin Bell showing up to a murder scene looking like she’s had a very rough night and is still seemingly drunk. She leaves those on the scene with a parting comment alluding to her knowing a lot more about this murder than they do. From there we slowly learn about a bank-robbing gang that Erin has had run ins with in the past with that is now back after over a decade of inactivity and both are out for revenge. This is revealed with a fairly over-used trope, the flashback. Though I’ll be honest Destroyer blends these time jumps seamlessly into the film without too much disorientation to the viewer.
The first flashback shows Erin as a fresh-faced young cop with her partner Chris (a wild Winter Soldier aka Sebastian Stan). It’s quite a shock and a juxtaposition between how she was before the incident and the obvious effects it has had (and still has) on her since. These scenes back up how damaged and traumatised she is.
Nicole Kidman’s performance is superb. Relatable, realistic and unforgettable. Above all, every scene with her daughter, played by Jade Pettyjohn, are usually heart-wrenching and you’re left feeling for both sides. Though she did decide to mumble through a lot of the lines she still manages to pack them full of deep emotions. It’s easy to see her pain through her bleak persona. She is almost unrecognisable in this role; with dark matted hair, the same basic outfit most scenes (jeans and an old leather jacket) and a pretty obvious drinking problem.
One of my favourite aspects of this film is that its action is very realistic. Chase scenes where both the pursuer and pursued are out of breath and struggling fairly early into it. And fight scenes where the landed hits really pack a punch with Erin still visibly affected days after. None of this terminator level of recovery you see in a lot of films.
There is an almost constant feeling of dread throughout the entirety of the film with almost no moment of relief or even a brief period of relaxation. This is aided by the amazingly written score that will have your heart in your throat for most of the film. This coupled with the incredible cinematography makes for a great film.
I enjoyed this film. It may have confused me at some points and I may have missed a few small nuances here and there. Nicole Kidman was amazing, and the story was engaging. Some scenes did seem like they were trying a bit too hard. But as a whole, I really enjoyed it and was completely blindsided by the plot twist that I won’t say anything about for fear of spoiling it. Honestly though, it’s good and I’d recommend giving it a watch.