Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer (2018) based on the screenplay by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi is all a Nicole Kidman film, where the character dominates the plot and literally every other element of the production.
A crime-thriller with a touch of the personal/moral, the movie shows the journey of an LAPD detective Erin Bell (Kidman) who is contacted by the leader of a gang that she once infiltrated along with a fellow detective Chris (Sebastian Stan) leading to a disastrous end. Now, the mother of a 16-year-old and coping with her inner demons, Erin has to track the gang leader and settle the score. Not a very compelling plot, and not unique by any means.
But, as mentioned, Kidman becomes the bigger-than-film life of the presentation. Hardly any scene excludes her, many of the shots being POVs of Erin’s character. And while her character rules screen time and keeps the protagonist as the object of attention, it’s Kidman’s look as “Detective Bell” that steals the show. The strained eyes, graying hair unkempt, and the unchanging jeans and jacket worn throughout the story running in present time (as against flashbacks that show her past as the undercover gang member) give her that Lost-Girl look that stands in stark contrast to her otherwise killer blonde look Hollywood has long cashed over three decades. In a way, it parallels her on-screen transformation of her Academy-Award-winning performance as Virginia Woolf in The Hours (2002).
Destroyer on IMDB is R-rated. Now MPAA surely has its own criteria for awarding R ratings but this reviewer wonders what really got Destroyer an R – except the handjob scene, which was nowhere explicit. Yes, some violence is there but I bet it’s not even a tenth of what they present in those super-hero fantasies or other videogamish stuff meant for minors.
For Nicole Kidman’s fans, Destroyer is yet another feather in her crown of pride and reinforces her image of an actress that never ceases to possess and bewitch the viewer.
DISCLAIMER: This writer is a Nicole Kidman fan.