Detective Erin Bell sets out to right a wrong that occurred because, as a young undercover officer twenty years ago, she made a series of wrong decisions.
Destroyer features a two-pronged performance from Kidman – the earnest near-rookie from twenty-four years ago and the angry, drunken, intense performance of Bell in the present.
Twenty-four years ago, Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman, Aquaman) and her partner, Chris (Sebastian Stan, Avengers: Infinity War) went undercover to try to take down a ruthless gang of bank robbers led by Silas (Tony Kebble, Kong: Skull Island).
Instead of doing their job, they came up with a plan to take the money from a big job and disappear.
The job went south when Silas, drenched by a dye packer he was told was not in the money a bank teller gave him, returned to the bank and killed the teller – and everyone headed off in different directions.
In the present, Silas appears to have returned and Bell is out to get him – despite being barely able to walk on her own.
Destroyer is modern crime thriller that takes a myriad of unexpected turns – like Bell having had a daughter, Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn, The Last Ship, School of Rock), with her late partner and who hates her.
Other featured character include Silas’ right-hand woman, Petra (Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and Shelby’s stepdad, Ethan (Scoot McNairy), along with skuzzy lawyer DiFranco (Bradley Whitford, Transparent, Get Out) and fellow detectives Garva (Natalia Cordova-Barley, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Kudra (Colby French, Heroes, The Chicago Code).
Written by Phil Hay (R.I.P.D., Ride Along) and Matt Manfredi (R.I.P.D., Ride Along) and Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Halt and Catch Fire), Destroyer is a two-not movie featuring a two- not performance by Kidman.
The first note – the one that opens and closes the movie, is Kidman’s older Detective Bell. She’s angry, usually buzzed and intense. That’s the performance – angry, buzzed and intense.
After half an hour into the movie, it gets old and boring. Whether she’s on Silas’ trail or trying to get her sixteen-year old daughter to stop being an idiot, her tone never varies unless it’s to get even more intense.
The other note is the positivity of young cop Bell, who seems to be just a wee bit chipper – whether she and Chris are planning to follow through on her assignment, or double-cross Silas. It, too, gets old pretty quickly.
Destroyer is also burdened with pacing that ranges from deliberate to slower than molasses running uphill in January.
It’s a slog.
It’s also the feel bad movie of Christmas.
Final Grade: D