I never thought of a mentally and emotionally scarred Nicole Kidman as a Christmas present, but I’ll take it.
The story looks like it’s about a cop with a troubled past that left her scarred, physically and mentally and now she’s wrapped up in a case which causes her to go back under cover to face her demons once again.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Nicole Kidman (AQUAMAN , THE BEGUILDED , LION , SECRET/EYES , THE OTHERS , and upcoming films THE UPSIDE  and THE GOLDFINCH ) and Toby Kebbell (HURRICANE HEIST , GOLD , A MONSTER CALLS , FANT4STIC , and the upcoming BANKING ON MR. TOAD ).
In support, we have Tatiana Maslany (STRONGER ), Bradley Whitford (DARKEST MINDS , MEGAN LEAVEY , I SAW THE LIGHT , CABIN/WOODS , and upcoming films GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS  and THE LAST FULL MEASURE ), Sebastian Stan (AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR , I TONYA , Captain America FIRST AVENGER , WINTER SOLDIER , and CIVIL WAR , THE MARTIAN , and upcoming films AVENGERS: ENDGAME  and MONDAY ), Beau Knapp (DEATH WISH , NICE GUYS , SOUTHPAW , and the upcoming VANDAL ), and Scoot McNairy (SLEEPLESS , BATMAN V SUPERMAN , and upcoming films ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD  and THE PARTS YOU LOSE ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Karyn Kusama, known for JENNIFER’S BODY (2009) and ÆON FLUX (2005). Co-writing the screenplay are Phil May and Matt Manfredi, both known for RIDE ALONG (2014) and 2 (2016). Composing the score is Theodore Shapiro, known for A SIMPLE FAVOR (2018), CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (2017), OFFICE X-MAS PARTY (2016), SPY (2015), and upcoming films SPIES IN DISGUISE (2019) and LAST CHRISTMAS (2019). The cinematographer Julie Kirkwood, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Finally, the editor is Plummy Tucker, known for JENNIFER’S BODY and ÆON FLUX.
Overall, I’m pretty excited for this movie. Yes, mostly because Nicole Kidman is among my top favorite actresses and a childhood celebrity crush. She still is. But now that I see that Karyn Kusama did JENNIFER’S BODY and ÆON FLUX, this bums me out a tad. I mean… it’s not like those movies are high art. But then again, Peter Farrelly made GREEN BOOK, which was a fantastic film, and he made both Dumb and Dumber movies and three segments of MOVIE 43. Not the best track record, but I guess anything’s possible. In any case, I’m sure I’ll like this movie fine.
This is my honest opinion of: DESTROYER
Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) is a drunken detective whose past has caught up with her. Getting herself involved in a murder case, she believes that an old acquaintance from her days doing an undercover stint, infiltrating a gang of bank robbers, and the leader of the group, Silas (Tobey Kebbell), is back. She tracks down old contacts to hunt him down, all the while trying to salvage her family life with her well-meaning ex-husband Ethan (Scoot McNairy) and her wild and rebellious teenage daughter Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn).
Hmm, well, I don’t know how good the movie is, but I will say that I liked it. I mean, how can I not? Kidman is one of my favorite actresses.
One of the big selling points is the “transformation” that Kidman goes through to play Erin. Well… yeah, shit, the make-up department did a fantastic job with making her look like a woman who has definitely seen better days. She’s got deep creases, her hair looks like it hasn’t seen shampoo in a month, I swear she looks twenty years older than she actually does. It’s insane. But what’s good make-up without a good performance? Do I even need to say it? I don’t think I do, but I will say it just so it’s on record. Kidman knocks it out of the damned park because of course she does. She commits to her role like a fucking boss, constantly looking like she’s ready to either go on a Rambo-styled rampage against every gang in the country, or eat someone. I have no idea which would be scarier. Once, she was a young, professional officer doing her job. But then circumstances happened, and now she’s living her life in regret, shame, hate, and a whole lot of booze. She’s relentless in finding those that she needs to talk to, she’s no-nonsense, not the best of fighters in her drunken, or hungover states, but she’s resourceful and knows how to bounce back and push through her adversaries to achieve her goal. She’s a bad-ass because she can take hits, but she’s clearly nowhere near the top of her game anymore. But, sober her up, put a Heckler & Koch MP5A3 in her hands, and Kidman proves that it doesn’t matter if she has a trident or a rifle, she kicks ass.
Maybe it’s just me, but did anyone else get the idea that this movie was based on a novel? I mean, I know it’s not, but I feel like Erin is so distinguished, so psychologically tortured, and her story is presented in such a way that it feels like it’s out of a really good crime novel. It’s well shot, a lot of quiet moments with Kidman just acting with her expressions, and the action scenes are pretty spread out. They’re not over-bloated, long, no action-movie scores playing over it, everything plays out in such a way that feels organic and runs as long as it needs to. Maybe the bank robbery scene later on sort of just happens and gets a little action heavy, but again, it sort of reminds me of HEAT (1995), albeit more condensed. Still, it’s a memorable scene.
I think the only element to the story that I didn’t really agree with was Shelby. Don’t get me wrong, Pettyjohn does a fair job with what she’s given, but is there really a reason for why she’s such a bitch? I mean, okay, Erin wasn’t always present, but it’s not like Ethan was a bad parent. He was there for her. Where did he go wrong? Why is she going into bars and shacking up with lowlife dick-weeds who don’t care about her age? I mean, there has to be more bad in her life to justify this. I know that sometimes good and present parents just lose their kids to bad circumstances, but… you’d still think that Erin isn’t solely to blame for this. Also, her vulnerable moment toward the end seemed to come out of nowhere.
Also… seriously, why so little screen time with Kebbell? He’s the target, the endgame of all of Erin’s misery and struggles. He’s the big bad of the movie. So… why do we only have two real scenes with him? We never learn anything about him. We know that he gets high. He makes his own family play Russian roulette. But it’s not enough to build a character. He’s an asshole. Cool. What makes him so threatening? <<<SPOILERS>>> [ Again, fine, he’s the one who killed Chris (Sebastian Stan), but that’s just what he did, not who he was. Sure, Chris was Shelby’s father, but we barely connected with Chris either. The movie may have been two hours long, but a little more time dedicated to showing both Silas and Chris as characters would have gone a long way. We the audience can’t connect with Erin’s suffering, so Silas’ death in the end isn’t satisfying. I buy into the emotional weight that Kidman is putting on it, but that’s not enough to feel for everything. I feel for Erin, but it’s not pushed as far as it can go. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Overall, it’s got a few hiccups in terms of narrative and its characters, but because Kidman is so damn good, she really holds up the movie and it’s no wonder that she’s a nominee at the Golden Globes for Best Actress. It ain’t bad and I think that it’s worth seeing. No need to rush out, unless you’re as die-hard a fan of Kidman as I am, but it’s definitely a good watch.
My honest rating for DESTROYER: 4/5
This week’s reviews:
Next week’s reviews: