When beautiful actresses make themselves ugly for a role, it’s always hard to see them that way. In Destroyer, Nicole Kidman plays an LA detective whose life took a dark turn after an undercover stint that went terribly wrong. It’s been 17 years since then and she’s still haunted by it. And then the man who made her into the drunk and lonely woman she has become comes back into her life, and she’s on a solo mission to finally take him out. The film jumps around in time, back to when she was undercover and then forward to her pursuit, and it’s sometimes a bit intentionally fuzzy as to the timeline. It’s not a particularly new story, and the script uses a bit too many film noir clichés. But my biggest problem with the film is the way that the filmmakers chose to make Kidman ugly. She’s supposed to be so broken as to not care about how she looks, but she has highlights! And her hair looks like a bad wig, but it’s styled and the grizzled face make-up is just over the top. It’s entirely distracting because is doesn’t look real, and Kidman is on camera the whole time, frequently in close-up. Grrrr!
The gist of the tale is that Erin Bell (Kidman) was involved in an undercover operation years earlier and fell for her partner. There was a bank robbery and it ended very badly, and Silas (Toby Kebbell), the man who got them into it because they were surveilling him, got away with millions. But when he contacts her out of the blue, and she thinks she can finally bring him to justice, her boss doesn’t think it’s worth the force’s time, so she does it herself, tracking down anyone and everyone from her undercover world. It’s gritty, and she’s kind of tough, though not up to the action she finds herself in because of her bad choices.
There’s also a narrative about her daughter who she can’t take care of getting herself in trouble. You want to feel for Erin, but she doesn’t have a lot to hang your emotions on. Kidman does all she can with a less than stellar script. There are some nicely shot scenes, and the action is well done, but I can’t say I’d recommend this one to any particular audience. If you really want to see it for Kidman’s performance, wait for it to stream. It won’t lose anything.
[Mainstream Chick’s take: It is difficult to figure out the audience for this one, so I agree, it’s fine to wait for the rental/stream option. At that point, however, I do think it’s worth checking out for Nicole Kidman’s performance. I wasn’t so distracted by the hair/wig (I’ve seen much worse – Boy Erased and Lion spring to mind!); rather, I found myself quite fascinated at how Kidman, as we’ve come to know and recognize her, disappears into this haggard, troubled cop persona. Destroyer definitely helps showcase her versatility as an actress. This year alone, she’s played a loving, conflicted mom in Boy Erased, a kick-ass queen of the sea in Atlantis, and now a tormented woman on the edge. The gal’s got serious range. – hb]