Movie Review – Destroyer

TL;DR – This is a film that holds its cards very close to its chest but that makes the slow burn that much better   

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Destroyer. Image Credit: Madman.


Okay … wow, this is a difficult film to parse because its structure and tone jump all over the place and it is a film guards its biggest conceit at all times. This also makes it a difficult film to review because there are vignettes throughout that I really like and really didn’t and it is hard to conceptualise that without immediately running into spoilers. However, that is what we will attempt to do.

So to set the scene, we open on Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) a detective in the LAPD who has clearly had a tough life, and is clearly worse for wear after a long night of drinking. She is arriving at a murder scene of a John Doe that had been shot multiple times. The police on site were not happy to see Erin, and even less so when she implies she knows who did it because she recognises the tattoo on the back of his neck and the money covered in die spread around the body as a warning. All of this is confirmed when we next see Erin at her office and she gets a letter with one of the dyed bills revealing a past that haunts her to this day.

Destroyer. Image Credit: Madman.
Nicole is a true force of nature in what might be he most haunting film to date. Image Credit: Madman.

There are a lot of themes at play here, like greed, rage, and getting in too deep, and all of these themes reinforce a story that grows like a tide, slowly coming in before immersing you. This slow build as Erin traces back through her past revealing her future could put you off especially with what she is forced to do to get the information she needs from a terminally ill former associate. However, as we see her past and what led her to here, the world begins to take shape. It was really interesting to see this film, which you have seen some versions of in the past, but this time the old grizzled cop is a woman. This creates a whole new dimension to a scenario that might have been otherwise too familiar.

A lot of this film works solely because Nicole Kidman is here for anything it throws at her. We see the cold hard Erin, who has seen the world ripped out from underneath her, and nothing is going well, like having a daughter Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn) who is ditching school and dating a guy at least six years older than here. However, we also see the young idealistic Erin who is ready for anything and deeply in love with Chris (Sebastian Stan) which is important because that is her cover as they infiltrate the gang of Silas (Toby Kebbell). There is almost a tonal whiplash as you jump from the two different timelines, but it makes sense as the story unfolds.

Destroyer. Image Credit: Madman.
This film taps on some many different emotions like love greed, and rage. Image Credit: Madman.

While this a film that acts more on the meditation of the past and how it affects the future, there are moments of heightening tension throughout that has you sitting on the edge of your seat. However, to talk about this we need to engage [SPOILERS] for the rest of the review. For me, one of those moments is when Erin is tailing Petra (Tatiana Maslany) only to stumble into an armed robbery which immediately brings her back to that heist that took so much from her. All of this leads to the end which is what made the film for me, but as we are discussing the end [MAJOR SPOILER WARNING]. It almost the last moments of the film we discover that we had been watching the film out of order. Yes, we have been jumping in-between the past and the present, however, in the present we are not seeing things in the order that happened. This is because the John Doe at the start was Silas who Erin killed. We are not seeing everything in the right order and because of that, we made an assumption about Erin right from the start that was unfounded. She was not drunk but dying from internal bleeding. Indeed when you think back to the rest of the film, the clues are all there, and it is one of those twists that I really liked because it was set up, just you were not paying attention to the details.

While this ending did put everything in context for me, it does not mean that this is a perfect film at all. While Nicole’s acting is amazing, she is doing it out from behind one of the more distracting wigs I have seen in cinema, that looks fine in some of the close-up shots, but not at all the moment you go any further out. As well as this, while the ending of the film put everything in context for me, it was a tough slog to get through at times before that.

Destroyer. Image Credit: Madman.
“You plaid cops and robbers, and you lost” Image Credit: Madman.

In the end, do we recommend Destroyer? Yes, with some caveats. This is not an action film, or even a police shoot-em-up film, or a heist film, so if you come in expecting that you will walk away disappointed. However, if you want to sit back and watch Nicole Kidman give a master class in rage, then this is the film for you.             

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Destroyer?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Destroyer
Directed by
–     Karyn Kusama
Written by – Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi
Music by – Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography by – Julie Kirkwood
Edited by – Plummy Tucker
Production/Distribution Companies – 30West, Automatik Entertainment, Annapurna Pictures & Madman
– Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Bradley Whitford, Jade Pettyjohn, Scoot McNairy, Toby Huss, Zach Villa, James Jordan, Beau Knapp, Shamier Anderson, Kelvin Han Yee & Natalia Cordova-Buckley            
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: na; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R

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