tue 19/02/2019

Destroyer review - Kidman shines in middling crime drama | reviews, news & interviews

Destroyer review - Kidman shines in middling crime drama

Destroyer review - Kidman shines in middling crime drama

A cliched script and grim aesthetic sours a powerhouse performance

Falling to pieces: Nicole Kidman as Detective Erin Bell

Destroyer. It’s an apt name. Like the film, it's grandiose and blunt. Nicole Kidman is almost unrecognisable (a requirement when aiming for nominations) as Detective Erin Bell, a damaged survivor of an undercover heist gone wrong. When her target resurfaces after 17 years, she must pull her life together to hunt him down and finally close the case, whatever it takes.

When we first see Detective Bell, she’s barely holding it together. Approaching a crime scene, she looks like an old punk star that stopped enjoying the drugs long before she stopped taking them. Limping, eyes barely open, and a voice struggling to escape the throat, her colleagues can see she’s in no state to work. But there’s life in the old girl yet. She receives a dollar note in the mail, covered in bank dye, and immediately she knows her past has come back to haunt her.

The story is told in two time periods, Bell’s current vendetta, and the undercover job 17 years previous. In her early days, she was wide-eyed and fresh faced, but the years between have turned her into a badass wreck. She's now never seen without a leather jacket, and always walking away as people shout "fuck you". Her policing style is, let’s say, unconventional. To get information, her techniques range from pistol whipping to masturbating. It’s all rather grim and unrelenting, with each scene followed by intense music while Bell drives hazily to her next sun-bleached location. Tensions ramp as she gets closer to her prize, with gunfights and fistfights aplenty.Nicole Kidman in DestroyerBut for all the menace and threat hanging over Detective Bell’s mission, it feels a bit hollow somehow. Perhaps it’s the rather procedural nature of her investigation, each lead helpfully knowing where the next person is. Or maybe it’s the main villain, Silas. Toby Kebbell is given a ridiculous wig that makes him the spitting image of Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, and then gets barely two scenes to leave an impression. It’s hard to want her retribution when the target has left such a little mark with the audience.

Thank goodness then for the film’s lead. Nicole Kidman makes Clint Eastwood look like Dick Van Dyke. Her performance alone is worth the admission price, becoming an avenging angel in a broken body. She physically decays on screen, only held together by anger and desperation. Along with director Karyn Kasuma, they pull no punches in the brutality of their world and its effects on everyone involved.

The pieces are purposefully put together over the run time, but the whole is unsatisfying; it goes for epic but lacks the substance. An attempt as some narrative acrobatics at the end just prove distracting, adding little to the story but a headache. Is this a story of revenge, or redemption? At times it’s hard to care. But maybe I was just too distracted by that damn wig.

Nicole Kidman makes Clint Eastwood look like Dick Van Dyke

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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