DESTROYER movie review
Nicole Kidman stars in DESTROYER as Erin Bell, an old grizzled cop who is hunting down a gang of bank robbers so that she can settle an old score.
The story is told in a somewhat non linear way which shows Bell tracking down the gang members in the present and then flashing back 16 years earlier to show the various gang members involvement in the robbery. The highlight of the movie is the makeup used to age and de-age the actors. Nicole Kidman truly looks weathered; displaying wrinkles, liver spots, and bags under her eyes.
Kidman has spent the last year or so playing very distinct and different supporting characters. She was a punk rock revolutionary in HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES, Bryan Cranston’s nerdy assistant in THE UPSIDE, a conservative mother in BOY ERASED, as well as AQUAMAN’s bad ass mother. She has also branched out into TV filming multiple episodes of BIG LITTLE LIES and THE UNDOING. Kidman is at a point in her career where she no longer needs to work for a pay check and can simply do roles that interest or challenge her. This is most likely what led Kidman to the lead role in DESTROYER. It was probably a fun and challenging role to perform, unfortunately it’s not fun to watch.
DESTROYER is a mostly joyless movie. There are a few attempts at humor that really don’t work. Kidman’s interpretation of the character could easily be mistaken for a bad Dirty Harry impression. Every minute of the film is pushed to a hyper dramatic level that almost borders on parody of the genre. The sound track is overly intense throughout the entire film. Simple driving and walking scenes that serve as transitions and nothing more with no greater meaning are accompanied by pointlessly intense base notes. Kidman’s constantly on edge and unnecessarily terse character frequently seems out of place among the other characters who all seem to be just having normal days.
The makers of DESTROYER seem to relish in the cliché’s of gritty police dramas as they appear to have included every single one of them in the film. Kidman’s character is an alcoholic, has a failed marriage, bad relationship with her child, rage issues, solves everything with violence, has nothing left to live for, plays by her own rules, refuses to work with her partner, won’t talk to the chief, and has questionable morals. A few of these clichés might work on their own, but when every single one of them is piled on top of the other the believability of the film starts collapsing. Instead of rooting for the character you start wondering why she hasn’t been fired or even arrested.
This film feels like it had some potential and I really wanted to like it. Every scene I was hoping that there would be some clever turning point that would validate all the cliché but it never came. Instead the film moodily drags on like some petulant child stomping down the hall with no real point to make. The only glimmer of hope is when Bradley Whitford shows up as a crooked lawyer. It is the one and only scene that feels fun and somewhat self aware of the ridiculous tone of the film. Unfortunately that scene takes a hard left and becomes a stupid cliché as well.
DESTROYER is not the worst movie ever, but everything in it you’ve already seen and you’ve seen all of it done much better in other films.
2 out of 5 stars.