06th Mar2019

‘Destroyer’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, Toby Huss, James Jordan, Beau Knapp, Jade Pettyjohn, Shamier Anderson, Zach Villa, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Colby French, Kelvin Han Yee | Written by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi | Directed by Karyn Kusama


Destroyer is director Karyn Kusama’s first cinematic venture in four years after her well-received feature The Invitation finding success on the streaming service Netflix in 2015. Kusama, famed for Aeon Flux and Jennifer’s Body in 2005 and 2009 respectively, has been in box office stagnation with the films stated above performing to mixed to disastrous results. Even with the latter teenage sadistic comedy having more and more of a cultural re-evaluation of sorts in recent years, it still wasn’t enough for Kusama to reignite her career.

A seasoned stint in television and a patient waiting in the wings outlook for her next cinematic project has Kusama bring her latest work to the screen with Destroyer – an intense stunning portrait of the venomous paradoxical plight of direction and moral consciousness in righteousness in a film that is melding of Michael Mann’s Heat and Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break.

Nicole Kidman is unrecognizable and formidable in the leading role of Erin Bell. A seasoned Los Angeles detective who is internally tormented every day for decades after an undercover operation gone wrong with severe tragic consequences leaves her on the cusp of an ongoing breakdown. Burning its way into her day to day warpath of scorching nihilism and blinded retribution on those who once wronged her.

Kidman is outstanding, blending into Erin Bell with total conviction. The award-winning actress is nowhere to be seen but most definitely found with her superbly intimidating and mighty performance that has sizeable screen presence and staunch bravado. The dedication by Kidman aligned with the superb make-up and costume by Cary Ayers and Audrey Fisher is stunning, respectively. It crafts the character in a subtle creation that doesn’t take anything away from Kidman’s talent but reinforces the sheer weathered life lived with that reinforce the layers and turbulent depth the character has withstood.

The editing from Plummy Tucker is superbly subtle with a shy emphasis on an action-packed thriller and more so an articulated meticulous effort of a character study with grounded intensity. The screenplay by writers Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay give Kidman’s a significant weight but falters with the emotional resonation of the supporting players and ultimately the strength of threads. Toby Kebbell as Silas is sadly only enigmatic due to lack of depth available. Sebastian Stan is also unfortunately wasted as Chris, a pivotal role in the film’s proceedings but left with only a few sequences to grind out an emotional response and the result is sadly lacklustre, to say the least.

Destroyer does, however, contain a wonderful filthy washed out colour grade that echoes the dirty grittiness of the bleak setting and plot, perfectly echoed hand in hand with the resulting narrative. The score by Theodore Shapiro is wholly outstanding in a hypnotic and mesmerizing thunderous tone; it is electrifying to a point of astonishment with each and every sequence that occurs, especially that of the films major set pieces.


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