Much intrigue, naturally, surrounds this film. Not only is Nicole Kidman heavily made-up beyond recognition to represent the movie’s tough protagonist, but it is Karyn Kusama’s first full feature directorial credit since the acclaimed horror The Invitation. Though it is not as impactful as the director’s last outing, Destroyer has enough content to engage and entertain from start to finish.
Nicole Kidman plays alcohol-dependent undercover LAPD officer Erin Bell, who is confronted with a murder that leads her back to a case she was originally involved in years ago. As Erin stumbles towards the crime scene, with the officers derisively looking upon her dishevelled state, we are immediately drawn to this noir-esque, maverick figure, who Kidman performs with an ice-cool authority and sour gruffness reminiscent of Linda Hamilton’s depiction of Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
As Bell tries to solve the murder, the narrative flicks back and forth between her present case and the distanced relationship with her rebellious daughter, Shelby, and her past, failed assignment with her then partner Chris (Sebastian Stan) as they infiltrated a Californian gang run by the sociopathic Silas (Toby Kebbell). The flashbacks are cunningly interwoven by scriptwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi to keep us guessing at how the past relates to the present case and, as events unfold, it transpires that the protagonist is indeed as bad as she poignantly confesses to her daughter she is.
Kusama’s modern take on the film noir genre dazzles the viewer with some stark, stunning cinematography of the LA surroundings as we intently follow Erin’s journey to seek justice. Theodore Shapiro’s atmospheric score and Kidman’s more intense moments of acting – as opposed to her overriding surly demeanour, which is particularly entertaining when she deals with Shelby’s smug, sleazy boyfriend (a sinister Beau Knapp) – add an engaging artistic and sophisticated suaveness to the film, making up for the lack of tension one would have expected from the promising creative team involved.
Destroyer is released nationwide on 25th January 2019.
Watch the trailer for Destroyer here: