Home » Destroyer review – Nicole Kidman shines in a Scorched Crime Thriller

Destroyer review – Nicole Kidman shines in a Scorched Crime Thriller

by Ben Rolph

Karyn Kusama’s crime thriller is a darkened study that dabbles in film noir. Set in Los Angeles this film intellectually crafts the break down of an undercover cop dealing with family troubles, armed robberies and murder cases.

Nicole Kidman is Erin Bell, a damaged worn-down detective. Stalked with tragedy she now drinks, stumbles and rubs on everyone. Kidman is cast against type as she gets lost into this deep role, her face is molded and shaped into one of a old-haggard woman. Stalked with tragedy routing from her final undercover job some sixteen years prior, reminders of her past regularly pop up whether its through paced flashbacks or familiar faces – she can’t escape.


The story ignites when Erin hobbles into a crime scene, as she recognises a gang tattoo on the deceased convict. The very same marking visible on her decaying neck that she and Chris (Sebastian Stan) got when things were bright, having to convince Silas (Toby Kebbell) of their loyalty. Fighting with her state of loss and decay she attempts to finally put all her past troubles to rest.

The film is full of intriguing qualities surrounding the rather cliche set up for revenge in loss. A strong merit of the film is its attempt to delve into character rather than action, with a stellar screenplay written by Phil Kay and Matt Manfredi it is admirable although the beginning lacks a connection between screen and audience.


It’s grim vision of the world is both smart, mesmorising and colourful in the darkness of what surrounds. Directed with delicacy and precision Kusama’s film can be flashy and subtle, using close ups to the best of her range in seeing the scorched view of how Erin sees what surrounds. Nicole Kidman finds her footing in this radically different role, although it takes a while.

Borrowing from film noir but most significantly it reminded me of the work of Christopher Nolan, specifically ‘The Dark Knight’ in a certain bank robbery scene – both films feature these, Destroyer’s greatest moment is this. As Erin’s journey goes on we meet various members tied to the gang, ravaged and broken she confronts them like a ghost from the past. Kusama never holds back from showing the brutality and rawness, with an ending that will shock and to me I found great pleasure in the smart twist.


Reversing the stereotype of the broken male hard-boiled detective destined for nothing, a hatred for the world and no respect for themselves. In this the film delivers closure in its cleverly woven plot with Kidman shining as a decaying alcoholic.

3.5/5 Stars

Ben Rolph





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