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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Something New for Nicole Kidman
by James Colt Harrison

Set in the worst sections of Los Angeles, Destroyer is a modern-day version of those hard-boiled police noir movies reminiscent of Raymond Chandler yarns from the 1940s. This one comes from female director Karyn Kusama of Girlfight and Aeon Flux notoriety.

If you are expecting to see the alabaster beauty of the real Nicole Kidman, you will be sadly disappointed. You will be shocked to see she looks like the Wicked Witch of the West after being parboiled in the Mojave for ten years without a hat.

Kidman has never looked worse, her beauty destroyed by makeup artist Bill Corso (Deadpool ). He had to devise a style that made Kidman really look bedraggled after years of tough slogging around in the underworld. At best, she looks like a cross between a Komodo dragon and Tommy Lee Jones. But, it’s effective, and we really feel as tired as she looks. In fact, her lethargy is exhausting.

The script (by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay) seems a bit muddled, and the extensive use of flashbacks by director Kusama adds to the confusion about what is going on during the first reel. After a period of scratching your head, you figure it out. Kidman is a cop bent on revenge. She has a great partner in Chris, played by Sebastian Stan of I, Tonya fame. But 17 years ago she lost this partner and has been blaming herself ever since. The flashbacks do serve, however, as a reminder of what Kidman looked like as a beautiful young woman, and then after years of being beat up by the game into a drunken old hag. Her beedy, darting eyes look like the terrified eyes of a scared ferret (the word is from Latin meaning “little thief”) and, just as the animal hunts rodents, Kidman’s character of Erin Bell hunts out human rodents of the underworld.

Concurrently running is a companion story of her quest to find serial killer  Silas, played by handsome Toby Kebbell.  Has chasing him turned her into the wreck she is today, or did they have a romantic liaison that went wrong? She wants to bring him to justice -- and a spectacular shoot-out may solve her problems.

Bradley Whitford appears in a sensational turn as an underworld kingpin named DiFranco. Whitford’s interpretation of the crime leader is a show-stopper and a scene-stealer’s dream. He surely should be recognized by the Oscar® voters.

Kidman’s performance could be a career booster. Her appearance as an empty corn husk of a woman with sun-bleached, faded skin tells us that this character is just about at the end of her morally corrupt and difficult sojourn.

(Released by Annapurna Pictures and rated “R” for language throughout, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use.)

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