Film Review – Destroyer

Destroyer (MA)

Directed by: Karyn Kusama

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany

Four and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Always one to take risks, choose projects outside the box and not repeat herself, chameleon Nicole Kidman shows yet another side of her acting talents with this gritty LA drama.

Haggard, worn, limping LA Detective Erin Bell arrives on the scene of a homicide and based on the evidence left on the body, she knows who is responsible, indicating that her checkered past is coming back to haunt her.

Several years ago, while undercover with her former partner Chris (Sebastian Stan), she became involved with a crime gang led by the volatile and dangerous Silas (Toby Kebbell) and a bank robbery that went horribly wrong.

Convinced that Silas has resurfaced after all these years, she makes her way through his acquaintances to track him down before he gets to her.

Meanwhile, Erin deals with her delinquent daughter Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn) and while she was never much of a role model for the teenager, tries to put her on the straight and narrow before she gets too deeply involved with her shady and much older boyfriend.


While Kidman’s talents are immense and diverse, her performance in Destroyer is completely unlike anything else she has committed to screen. She has the ability to tackle well-rounded and emotionally complex characters, and yet to this point has still retained a softness and delicacy.

Here, she is not only physically unrecognisable as the guilt ridden detective, her face worn by the harsh LA sun and lack of self care, but she is tough and hardened, her delicate demeanor completely eradicated as she limps and pistol whips her way through this investigation.

Kidman plays this character as carrying such heavy emotional weight that it almost drags her down physically – a downright incredible example of acting and character building that went criminally undervalued this year, save for a Golden Globe nomination.

Those behind the camera are also at the top of their game: director Karyn Kusama putting in her best work since her breakout film Girlfight and cinematographer Julie Kirkwood capturing the action and LA in an enthralling way.

This is not just simply a vehicle for Kidman’s astounding performance, but a tight script that, while it does cover some familiar procedural territory, is committed to character development and has a genuinely surprising twist at the end.

An all-round winner.

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