Film Review – Destroyer (2019)

There is no doubt of Nicole Kidman’s extreme talent as she constantly strives to stay on top of her game. Her 2003 Oscar win for ‘The Hours’ was well deserved. She wasn’t afraid to hide her beauty with unattractive nose prosthetics hence she played Virginia Woolf with tragedy, tenacity and turmoil. Fifteen years later, Kidman has taken that same risk, once again to hide her beauty and act intensely with the help of make up to age her character to be broken, yet tough which has taken a huge toll on life. Kidman’s Detective Erin Bell will be her most memorable character yet as she doesn’t hold back.

Destroyer follows the moral and existential odyssey of LAPD detective Erin Bell who, as a young cop, was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert with tragic results. When the leader of that gang re-emerges many years later, she must work her way back through the remaining members and into her own history with them to finally reckon with the demons that destroyed her past. In flashback, a much younger and healthier looking Erin meets Chris (Sebastian Stan). The two of them are being sent undercover to infiltrate a gang that’s committing bank robberies. They become close and develop a loving relationship in their deep cover. What tragedies will occur with these two once they fall in love? How will it damage Kidman’s Erin Bell?

The journey of the film and her character is powerful, yet Kidman provides us with true heroism. She is your damaged cop that is psychologically tortured. From time to time the flashbacks join the dots and we understand her past and why it’s important she finds the sociopath gang leader Silas, played brilliantly by Toby Kebbell. A scene where Kebbell encourages a gang member to play Russian roulette on himself where Kidman’s Bell must decide to save him and blow her cover is truly penetrating on the mind as tension is truly at amidst.

However to see Kidman have a motive for her corruption is with the best intentions. Her sixteen year old daughter Shelby, played by up and coming actor Jade Pettyjohn provides Kidman’s Erin Bell with all the motives to protect her despite their relationship being in the gutter. What will she do to get her dominant and over controlling boyfriend away from her? How far will she go is a good sub plot.

The bank robbery scenes are excellent. Kidman plays it cooler than Keanu Reeves in Point Break. After all, there are comparisons to this 1991 cult classic. To see Kidman lock and load her machine gun and attempt to stop a robbery without backup against a brutal armed gang can almost be compared to the classic bank robbery scene in ‘Heat.’ It is violent and intense, but Detective Erin Bell is full of fear and adrenaline but will stop at nothing to pin these thugs down. It is captivating to see Kidman play a role like this as it’s something she’s never done before. The badass cop has been played many times be hit, Clint Eastwood’s ‘Dirty Harry’, Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs in ‘Lethal Weapon’ or even Russell Crowe’s Bud White in ‘LA Confidential.’ Kidman can now join this worthy list of badass cops. She plays hard ball, she packs a punch even if she’ll be damaged goods in the process. An Oscar worthy performance yet again, but only worth a nomination due to the stiff competition of Olivia Colman, Lady Gaga and now Glenn Close.

Aly Lalji |


Crime, Drama | USA, 2018 | 15 | 25th January 2019 (UK) | Lionsgate Films | Dir. Karyn Kusama | Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebell, Tatiana Maslany, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, Sebastian Stan

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