“Destroyer” is a wild fever dream of a long awaited time to avenge a wrong done to the main character. It involves a woman undercover detective in LA, sent into a deep-cover operation with a man who becomes her lover. There are circumstances that cause several deaths, and she suffers a tragic loss of her lover. He had become the father of a soon-to-be born child, and the agents’ life is turned upside down. There was a bank-robbery gang that she and the other agent were imbedded into. During an ill-conceived heist, there is hell to be paid. Even if that retribution needs to wait 17 years…
Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) is currently considered a joke in the LA police detective office. She is hard-drinking and impertinent. She does not work well with others. She has a daughter, and the girl is contently in trouble. She has an ex-husband Ethan (Scoot McNairy), but is now divorced – mostly because Erin Bell pushes way everyone in her life. She is a total hot mess and under duress. She knows and waits for only one thing. She craves to get back the person who had ruined her life 17 years ago.
Back 17 years, and Erin was teamed with Chris (Sebastian Stan) in an undercover operation to get in with a gang of outcasts. They are led by a strange but charismatic guy named Silas (Toby Kebbell). People in the gang were under control of Silas, to the point of playing Russian roulette for his amusement. He would plan bank robberies and other things to prove the loyalty of his crew. After many months, Erin Bell and Chris became full ingrained into the gang. They become lovers and Erin is pregnant. But there is a fateful day with a robbery gone very badly. Erin’s child will never meet her true father.
Erin Bell has survived her life since that day, and has not dreamed of anything but getting revenge. One day, she hears of some recent clues about the return of Silas to the scene in LA. There are some ex-gang members that she finds, and she finds DiFranco (Bradley Whitford). DiFranco is a successful lawyer who has side jobs from criminal clients. One of his contacts is Silas, and he has been laundering money from the old bank robberies. This leads Erin to Petra (Tatiana Maslany), one of the old members. She is getting new members to work for Silas to commit new robberies. Erin finds one in progress and becomes an on-the-spot security force. She first captures and gets more information from Petra, so that she can confront Silas for a final time.
Nicole Kidman has created a character that is so deep into her hatred and despair that she has ruined her life. Kidman put 100% into this role, and she looks so unlike any other character that Nicole Kidman has ever played – that you might gasp. Her life spirit has been drained, and she wants nothing but revenge. But she will not give up or quit, until she can undo the damage done by Silas. This is a role for which Kidman deserves to be recognized and awarded many honors.
Karyn Kusama has directed a very wonderful little film. It tracks back and forth in time, to show Erin Bell’s tragic story. It takes the typical ideas from detective stories and turns them slightly askew. It captures the struggle for a normal life by a character that is haunted by her past life. It takes a clear-eyed view of how an obsessive need for revenge can be a Destroyer of a person’s life.
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