14
Mar
2019
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Destroyer

Destroyer

Stumbling out of her filthy car into a crime scene, police detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) has seen better days. Middle-aged and destroyed by drink, her presence is an embarrassment. However crouching over the prone figure of the dead victim, she sees something her colleagues have missed – a distant past that has returned to haunt her anew.

Lurching through the blinding LA daylight, Nicole Kidman’s Erin is a train wreck with a badge...

Director Karyn Kusama’s crime noir is a female-led thriller where the past is never far away from Erin, its central character. Lurching through the blinding LA daylight, Nicole Kidman’s Erin is a train wreck with a badge. A former undercover officer, her tinderbox relationship with the world is similarly reflected in her exchanges with daughter Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn). However, focussing on a mother that was never present (amongst others), is one of many strands of guilt that slow this thriller down. Couple this with a partner who is purely brought on half way to advance the plot and ‘Destroyer’s’ own dysfunctional ambition starts to pull itself apart. 

That all said there are many commendable aspects. For instance, it’s great to see another female-led actioner. The score and cinematography create a very definite and distinct atmosphere and actress Tatiana Maslany again impresses even though she never really gets the goods – because this is clearly a Nicole Kidman vehicle. 

Labouring under heavy prosthetics and a dusty wig that once belonged to scarecrow, Kidman’s manifestation of a former drunk Erin cuts a conspicuous figure in the film’s framing. Whilst never being entirely convincing, the merits of her character (and the movie as a whole) rests on the commitment of Kidman’s performance – which is unsurprisingly strong. However, when ‘Destroyer’ starts to overplay its ambitious hand towards the end, the cracks ultimately turn into logistical fault lines that even its make-up can’t hide.

Riven with an increasingly ponderous plot that never really delivers on a handful of stand-out scenes, ‘Destroyer’ is a committed two hours that sadly drags out its third act when the other two promised so much more.

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