Destroyer, directed by Karyn Kusama, isn’t able to salvage what it a dower, cliché revenge drama, despite having two scenes near the very end of the film that do a lot of work to try and evolve the film into something more than what it primarily is. To be honest, my enthusiasm for this review is low, as when it comes to Destroyer, there’s very little to talk about that doesn’t feel like me rehashing things I’ve said about plenty of other films that are exactly like this one. Anyway, let’s drop ourselves down into the review and see what to make of Destroyer.
Erin Bell – played by Nicole Kidman – is dragged back into dealing with the events and people of a failed undercover assignment. It’s an assignment that went onto shape the rest of her life, and it’s one she’s looking to get some payback for, as one of the members of the gang she was in; Silas – played by Toby Kebbell – did something he has to pay greatly for. It’s a story as old as time; revenge fuelled by love.
What I was really hoping from Destroyer, was a central character whose damaged persona and turbulent story had me engrossed by the depths that she is taken down into. Sadly, I found the main character and her story to be tediously cliché and lacking any sort of meaningful depth.
There are so many cop dramas where the main character is troubled. They turn to booze, drugs or multiple other ways to just help lessen their demons. It’s a character cliché that’s become infamous at this point, but when done well, it can be extremely compelling. But with Destroyer, it’s the kind of clichés where you’re never grabbed by anything interesting, and you know where things are always going to go.
What’s really frustrating is that there are elements to Erin Bell that I found myself invested in and wanting to explore more of. It’s the moments in Erin’s past; where the film flashbacks and explores what events went onto cause the dark path that she went down that I was most invested in. Unfortunately, the film spent very little time on this and instead focused on Erin and her current day life, which was far, far less interesting. It was these segments in particular that things felt wholly unoriginal and wholly uninteresting.
It was in the flashbacks that I saw characters who interested me. Whose unpredictability or whose need to escape the life they were in before, had me wanting to spend the majority of the film with them. It also aided these moments that some of the cast assembled were great – Toby Kebbell and Sebastian Stan for example. But they were largely wasted, and ultimately served only plot and no real meaningful exploration was ever put to them.
What also didn’t help my investment in the film was a performance by Kidman that felt tonally separate from the rest of the characters around her. Every other character she comes face-to-face with has a tone and a presence to them that makes them feel like they’re in procedural cop drama that you’d see on evening telly; while Kidman comes across like a character from a dower HBO drama that’s edgy and gritty. It played a significant factor in my total disconnect from the film.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way saying Kidman’s performance was bad – it’s a transformative piece of work by the actress. It’s just that for me it never felt like a performance that was getting supported by the film around it.
I mean, I’ve been loving the renaissance in Kidman’s career in the last few years. She’s been making some really interesting choices and she’s once again become an actress whose work I’m now excited and eager to experience. Her choices are so varied – and while some are great and others not so great – I always love seeing an actor whom you never know what you’re going to get from them next. And so, with Destroyer, the performance is certainly good – and it’s work that will certainly be considered as being one of her standout performances – but in the overall experience of Destroyer, it’s lost and lessened by a film that just isn’t able to offer anything memorable.
It was only in the last few scenes of Destroyer that I think the film found something meaningful and that almost elevated the experience into something worth sitting up in your seat and fully paying attention too. There is a scene between Erin and her daughter, Shelby – played by Jade Pettyjohn – (who does an incredible job of matching and complimenting the acting talent of Kidman) where I felt I got the truest glimpse into who Erin was and what she wanted from her life. I gave all of my attention and investment over to this scene. It totally grabbed me and when it was over, I wish I had been given more like it. But at the very, very late stage in which it occurred in the film, it was too late. Destroyer was already a film I had checked out of long ago.
In the end, Destroyer did two very interesting things with its ending, and had the rest of the film been as interesting, then there could have really been something worthy of telling people about, but that never ends up being the case.
And so, I can’t think of a reason why I would recommend Destroyer. There are some good elements to it, but they don’t join up and form something that offers enough of an overall engaging experience. It’s a film that’s sadly just not worth your time.
What did you think of Destroyer and my review of it? Let me know in the comments section down below. If you liked my silly ramblings, then I now also produce my own podcast alongside my movie enthusiast friend. It’s called the ‘The Meandering Movie Podcast’ and is available on iTunes (https://apple.co/2FUkAhU ) and Soundcloud (https://bit.ly/2S4sMm6 ). Follow us/me on Twitter – @MeanderingPod & @GavinsRamblings – for all the updates on my blog and podcast. Thank you so much for stopping by, and I hope to see you return!