Nichole Kidman looks like she's been dragged through a hedge backwards, amongst many other things. Watered boarded, burnt, bruised and blistered - this is the most method we've ever seen this Australian actress. At a (reportedly) modest $9 million budget It's also one of the smallest film she's appeared in, at least for a very long time. Karyn Kusama, whose previous work includes Æon Flux and Jennifer's Body, has dreamed up an arty but dark and dirty thriller with the intention of showcasing Kidman's raw talent - glossy Hollywood effects aside.
Broken police detective Erin Bell is dragged back into the legacy of her first undercover operation, which went badly wrong - with disastrous consequences - after she discovers the leader of the gang she infiltrated has re-emerged. Kidman is truly unrecognisable in Destroyer - a quirky film noir with lots of loose ends. Kusama's latest effort mixes Taxi Driver with Three Billboards - but without the brutality of Travis Bickle or cut throat wit of Mildred Hayes. This rampage fable flip-flops between the past and present, but it isn't until the final act we fully absorb Kidman's emotional and physical trauma. In the constant flashbacks Kusama spotlights Kidman's relationship with FBI partner Chris (Sebastian Stan) - it dominates the majority of the film, but this plot device feels flimsy and quite unconvincing.
By the same token, Toby Kebell is about as menacing as Kidman's ratty old wig. Bell sets out on this furious stampede, all guns blazing for revenge on Kebell's gang leader Silas - but Kebell's performance is so tame and wishy-washy its inconceivable he is the initiator of this bloody mess.. Add on an unsatisfying and poorly orchestrated sub plot involving Erin's daughter Shelby, the film attempts to make Erin a bit more personable and human but this sub-plot has a tagged on and uncomfortable feel
Destroyer is chiefly about Kidman's gruelling and driven performance. She storms around the shabby and disillusioned streets of LA all blood thirsty, battered and broken - her lived in stench positively radiates off the screen. She provides fixed stare, teeth clenched anger and bitter despair whilst skulking around in her bashed up saloon. This is a striking and transformative role for Kidman and it's refreshing to see her star in such a small flick - that said, Destroyer would have virtually nothing about it if it weren't for her superstar appeal
It's small scale but equally small in ambition.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.