What I like about “Destroyer” is that it’s a gritty throwback to 1970s American cinema that makes no excuses for its violence and the rate in which it occurs. Think back to the days of “The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3” or Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”
“Destroyer” is directed by Karyn Kasama who helmed the 2003 science-fiction entry “AEon Flux.” More recently, she directed “Jennifer’s Body” (2009) scribed by “Juno” Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody. Neither of these films were worthwhile, but they show a more diverse hand in storytelling that never fell into the doldrums.
What also works is the presence of Nicole Kidman who downplays her beauty and on-screen presence. I’ve been a fan for years, going back to “Dead Calm” in 1989 — one of the few water-based entries I actually liked.
“Destroyer,” for all intents and purposes, is just a good old detective tale about a woman, Erin Bell (Kidman) who is deep undercover in a bank heist scheme that goes awry. She shares some great screen time with co-star Toby Kebbell, one of the bad guys she gets involved with.
The trouble I have with films like this is that the plot focuses, not on the greater good, but rather an individual’s self-worth and just plain old greed. It is just about gluttony and the ability to get ahead.
As a point of reference, I would compare this to Christopher Nolan’s pretzel-twisting tale “Memento” (2000). In that the storyline, the plot is not all spelled out for viewers in a paint-by-numbers style of execution. The story never hits any dry spells. It’s methodic in taking the audience to a point where it settles down.
Kidman takes a bold step in presenting her character as deeply flawed and troubled. She gives Bell her own individual and nuanced identity. Her character even has a daughter that she rarely sees.
The film is set in a small town in Middle America with a small police force.
It’s cool is to see the characters interact with each other since each adds their own unique angle to the story.
“Destroyer” is a worthwhile movie that shows Kidman in a new light, although she is known for her beauty and grace as exemplified in Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge” (2001). She also displayed her charm in 1998’s “Practical Magic” with co-star Sandra Bullock as the younger sister of the pair.
“Destroyer” does what it’s supposed to do in showing that Kidman, known as a great actor and versatile performer, can carry her weight with the best of them.