The key to viewing “Destroyer” is that you don’t need to understand the whole story, but see it as a crime thriller with questions and answers. It took a while for me to understand the past and present mixed together, but I discovered a certain kind of vibe that makes the movie so gripping.
Nicole Kidman gives one of her best performances as Erin Bell, an LAPD detective who looks like she hasn’t slept in days…..no, months. She had a dark past in which she and her partner and lover Chris (Sebastian Stan) went undercover in order to infiltrate a gang leader named Silas (Toby Kebbell), who murders Chris during a robbery gone wrong. This is why she’s a somewhat wreck. Now, the past comes back to haunt her as Silas is back in the game.
Meanwhile, while trying to solve the latest John Doe murder, which may have Silas involved, Erin deals with her estranged teenage daughter Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn), who starts dating an older man named Jay (Beau Knapp). She blames her for having a crappy childhood, and becomes rebellious. Erin tries to make things right with her.
Again, I had trouble understanding parts of the movie, and one scene did make me a bit sleepy; so I can’t call it a full renegade masterpiece. Still, “Destroyer” keeps things rolling with Kidman igniting the screen as a woman struggling to balance her past and present. Both time periods keep her in check, and the way she handles her situations proves how profound her acting is. And you also have nice supporting work from Stan, Kebbell, Pettyjohn, and Bradley Whitfield as a dirty lawyer; and their chemistry with Kidman is riveting.
The movie also looks fantastic with how the robberies are presented. They’re probably the best I’ve seen since “Hell or High Water.” I won’t spoil anything for you, if you’ve heard and want to see it, but one of them involves a a purple dye pack. And not just the robberies, but also Kidman’s conversations and situations.
The cinematography was done by Julie Kirkwood and the editing is completed by Plummy Tucker. And director Karyn Kusama and writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi all bring it all together. But really, it’s Kidman who steals the show, and that’s enough for me to recommend “Destroyer.”