Destroyer

In Cinemas Now

You can't run from yourself.

Nicole Kidman plays a police detective, broken and battle-hardened, who attempts to reconnect with the members of a gang she infiltrated as a young undercover cop—a past that continues to haunt her. From director Karyn Kusama, reuniting with the writers of 2015's The Invitation.

Trailers

Directed by

Action, Crime, Drama

123mins

Rating: R16 Violence, offensive language & sexual material

USA

Star power can be a dangerous, delicate thing, as director Karyn Kusama (The Invitation) proves in this knotty cop thriller. On the one hand, subverting Nicole Kidman’s glamourous profile adds a bitter edge to every scene. On the other, it wipes everyone else out of the movie.

In a scuzzy, sun-baked LA recognisable from decades of LAPD and gang films, detective Erin Bell (Kidman) investigates a murder that’s closer to home than she’s letting on. With her low tones, bad hair and haunted eyes, she’s a broken woman, and the trail takes her back to her time as an undercover operative infiltrating a gang of armed robbers lead by the evil Silas (Toby Kebbell).

Whether tossing off a dying crook (James Jordan) in exchange for information, or paying off the boyfriend of her wayward daughter (Jade Pettyjohn), Kidman gives an admirably grungy performance. There’s capable support, too, from Scoot McNairy as Bell’s ex-husband, and Sebastian Stan as her former partner. The problems come when the film flicks back to that painful past.

Kebbell is a brilliant actor, but he’s saddled with an unconvincing mullet and underwritten dialogue so Silas never comes to life. The gang, meanwhile, are a bit too Point Break—all bleached hair and brewskis—so what should be key sequences lack the conviction of their present-day equivalents.

Thankfully, these more than make up the gap. A thumping bank heist recalls the work of Michael Mann minus the budget. And an ever-present sense of rot and regret brings to mind Joe Carnahan’s underrated debut Narc. What we’re left with is a fascinating character study that does more for Kidman than it does for the genre. But then, on this kind of form, she deserves it.

Hollywood Reporter

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Ultimately feels affected in its aspirations toward making some profound statement about self-abasement and sacrifice, making one feel like rejecting the whole thing despite some striking individual moments.

IndieWire (USA)

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The movie takes its time to provide a satisfying rationale, occasionally suffering from a sluggish pace and sleepy atmosphere that lessens the underlying mystery...

Variety (USA)

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Kidman has always been a chameleon, but in this case, she doesn’t merely change her color; she disappears into an entirely new skin, rearranging her insides to fit the character’s tough hide.

Los Angeles Times

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The grim relentlessness with which "Destroyer" seesaws between time frames - as if to make sure that no state of abjection, past or present, goes unexplored - wore me out long before the endlessly protracted finish.

NPR

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Rarely are women cast in these roles of screwed-up, hard-boiled antiheroes with a lifetime of regrets to make up for, and even if this is your basic LA noir, it's well-executed and satisfying in all the ways it should be.

Screen International

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Kidman brings such compelling conviction to her role as a tormented detective that she single handedly imbues the film with urgency and authenticity.

The Guardian

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It's a mechanical noir dressed up as something more substantial and this is especially felt in an ending that drowns in unearned profundity.

NZ Herald (Toby Woollaston)

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Lost in the shuffle of award season comes a police procedural so hard-boiled it could break your teeth.