Destroyer Movie Review
If looks could kill Nicole Kidman, Destroyer would be unstoppable. Dark, gritty and slick as hell, this icy Heat-wannabe has everything going for it except real substance.
Nicole Kidman plays an ugly version of Nicole Kidman, masked under a heap of makeup meant to make her look older or, more accurately, like she has been through the ringer one, two, or a thousand times. Kidman matches her look with a cutting performance that is just as dark, depressing, and against type as possible.
These are the kind of turns that win Oscars people.
If the movie, you know, is decent.
The problem is that for as great as a Destroyer looks, as seedy as its murder plot is, and as intensely as the score throbs at every possible moment, it all just feels a bit hollow. The story is something we’ve all seen done better elsewhere, the crimes not disturbing enough to match the aesthetics, let alone Kidman’s snarl.
The score especially seems to amp up anytime the movie needs a little urging on, when the story temporarily flatlines or Kidman’s arc begins to prove not quite as fascinating as you’d hope. The score is great, and yet the way it is used makes you feel used.
Still, there is a decent core here, a serviceably entertaining mystery plot that doesn’t always hold your attention but does so more often than not. Director Karyn Kusama maintains momentum by lurching the plot forward in brutal bursts, checking the necessary boxes as she does so.
What’s missing is someone for Kidman to play off of and something for the movie to build to. Pacino had De Niro in Heat, and while Destroyer didn’t need to give equal weight to someone other than Kidman, it feels like she is alone on an island, wandering through swamps full of characters less interesting than her. The movie itself ends in a whimper, a showdown of non-epic proportions.
Destroyer has a lot going for it, but what it’s missing is soul, an identity to build around rather than the other way around, slapping makeup on an empty vessel and hoping the disguise fools enough people.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.