DESTROYER film review

Nicole Kidman stars as Erin Bell in Karyn Kusama’s DESTROYER, an Annapurna Pictures release.

– By Cate Marquis –

This is not how we are used to seeing Nicole Kidman. Kidman plays snarling, violent, even grizzled Los Angeles police detective bent on vengeance, in the gritty crime thriller DESTROYER.

Kidman also plays a younger, more innocent rookie cop version of the character, Erin Bell, in flashback. As the younger version, Kidman looks like herself, as we are used to seeing her, but as the older, hardened cop, she is nearly unrecognizable.

That Kidman’s character is damaged goods, and was once a far different person, as made clear by the reaction of her police co-workers when she appears unexpectedly at the crime scene that opens the film. A body with bullet holes is found in a little-visited area near the Los Angeles river, sparking a murder investigation, but a tattoo on the body hints at a connection to another long-ago crime in Detective Erin Bell’s past.

The script, written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, film toggles back and forth between the investigation linked to that murder scene, and flashbacks to a younger version of that character (a prettier Kidman), who as a rookie participated in an undercover investigation that went horribly wrong. Those events basically created the snarling animal we meet in that first scene, and who haunts the film throughout, as she hunts down the criminal leader Silas (Toby Kebbell) involved in that life-changing earlier investigation.