Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for violence, sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity
Running time: 123 minutes
Production Companies: 30 West / Automatik Entertainment
Studio: Annapurna Pictures
Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) is a veteran LAPD detective whose partner, Chris (Sebastian Stan), died when his cover was blown during an undercover operation gone bad. Courtesy of flashbacks, we learn that he was murdered by Silas (Toby Kebbell), the leader of the gang of bank robbers the two had infiltrated.
At the time, Erin and Chris were also lovers, and she was pregnant with his baby. Fast forward 16 years and we find the single-mom doing a miserable job of raising their rebellious daughter, Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn), who is presently under the spell of a surly slacker (Beau Knapp) already in his twenties.
The problem is that ghost-like Erin ostensibly never recovered from the loss of Chris. Haggard, pale and rudderless, she’s ostensibly still haunted by the fact that Silas and his henchmen vanished with the millions stolen in the heist and were never apprehended.
A crack in the long-dormant case arrives when some incriminating evidence at a crime scene indicates that the gang has finally resurfaced. The clues revitalize traumatized Erin who goes rogue on an obsessed, one-woman quest to track down Silas.
Thus unfolds “Destroyer,” a riveting, relentless, revenge-fueled thriller directed by Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux). Nicole Kidman deservedly landed a Golden Globe nomination for her unforgettable performance as the picture’s hard-boiled heroine. She’s virtually rendered unrecognizable by a very demanding role as a self-abusing, shell of a human-turned-wanton vigilante.
Besides Kidman brilliantly playing against type, this nihilistic neo noir features a capable cast deftly executing a convoluted, cat-and-mouse screenplay in convincing fashion. A must-see tale of female empowerment representing the best work yet by director Kusama.