Cinematic Releases: Kidman Unleashed: Destroyer (2018) Reviewed

Nicole Kidman continues her amazing 2018 streak with the stark crime drama, Destroyer

Armed with fine detail, a slow burn, and a self deprecating make-up job that hides her impeccable beauty, she's in fine form with one of the best films of her career and one of the most outstanding entries of the last twelve months. This Destroyer is a heavy plot that connects the dots between dirty cops, drug addled street thugs, and personal redemption hidden somewhere below the surface of a story riddled with personal demons and loss. Painted with a grimly astute directorial hand, Kusama ups the ante on her own directorial resume by blending the dynamics of a heist story gone wrong with a down on her luck cop that wants some type of closure on her past. 

Cut from the same grit covered cloth as 1985's cop drama To Live and Die in L.A., Kidman paired with indie director Karyn Kusama turns out to be a match made in non-procedural hell as this is about the furthest you're going to get from a standard police flick. This is human drama at its finest as all characters involved seek financial wellness at the most dire of costs. Featuring Tony Kebbell as the main villainous ring leader and the super talents of Sebastian Stan in a supporting role, Destroyer serves as a story about greed, addiction, and personal grief over the wrong life choices we've made. Kusama does a fine job of wrapping it all up in a package replete with classic noir tones that feel modern and succinct. 

I just came for a cup of coffee and
all you want to do is talk about my looks. 

Kidman is somewhere below the surface of this character as she walks all over a script that may not have been so finely rendered under less capable hands. Totally escaping into character, she's nearly nowhere to be found as this devolves into a taut drama that never quite becomes the action piece it was advertised as. This is more so a lower budget art house indie film that just so happens to star a great cast and features a bit of gun play with some hand to hand fight scenes.  Destroyer is down and dirty and wants to drag its audience through the thick and thin of officer Erin Bell's worst days. From the opening seconds, Kidman's work is cut out for her in a mucky world of double crosses, love gone wrong, and a seedy criminal underbelly that won't let her escape peacefully. 

This one will be a hard sell for many viewers. It's strictly not for everyone. It's slow. But grimy and gross. Destroyer is not pretty at all. Every time you think she's reached the bottom of the ladder, Kusama finds another rung for her to step down onto. Her character is beat down and dragged through the multiple circles of a human inferno with each outcome becoming worse and worse as she continues to fall further into the abyss of her choices. If you're going in expecting some straight forward movie, this is not it. This is a character study that needs time to build. Destroyer is refined in its presentation of an aging character and all the ugliness she's created around herself.

Personally, I cannot recommend this one enough. 

-Chris George