Film Review: Destroyer (2018)

Another 2018 film that had escaped my notice, until it arrived on the BBC recently. Nicole Kidman starring? That has to be worth watching.

**No spoilers**

Kidman plays a haggard LAPD police detective in a film that runs along two time lines. In 2018, she is worn out, drunk most of the time, and unpopular with her colleagues. She is almost unrecognisable as Nicole Kidman too, with clever use of prosthetic make-up, and a very gruff voice. The 2002 part of the story brings us a more familiar Nicole, as her and her partner are undercover police officers, infiltrating a dangerous gang of bank robbers.

The two time periods swap from scene to scene, so make sure you are wide awake when watching.

Essentially, this is a revenge thriller. In 2002, the detective and her partner are going along undercover on a robbery. Something goes badly wrong, leaving her shaken and disillusioned. Then in 2018, she receives a message that brings it all back, and goes on a one-woman revenge spree to find the leader of the gang from back in the day.

Unfortunately, it comes with a lot of well-used plot devices.

*She has spilt from her husband.
*She doesn’t get on with her teenage stepdaughter, who runs around with older men and refuses to behave.
*She keeps her detective partner in the dark about what she is doing, and ignores requests from her superior officers to report in.
*There is a hint at something dark in her past that is slowly revealed.
*She operates a ‘Dirty Harry’ style of justice for anyone she finds connected to the gang.

For a lot of the film I was thinking, ‘Seen it all before’.

Of course, the fact it is a female detective and not a male one is something different, but otherwise it is situation normal for a modern cop-thriller.


Very close to the end, something great happens. The film turns full circle, and we realise that what we have been watching wasn’t exactly what we thought it was.

Just for that, it was worth watching. It really was.

Despite the fairly large cast, it is definitely a one-woman film. Kidman is in every scene, and dominates those scenes. She is physical, no-nonsense yet vulnerable, and perfectly credible throughout. Probably why she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.

36 thoughts on “Film Review: Destroyer (2018)

  1. Great review…yes, we’ve seen so much of it before, but then it does a few things that make the trip worthwhile, especially since she gives another incredible performance…Kidman is really keeping her career going in so many interesting directions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Before I watched it, I read a couple of very lukewarm reviews, Pam. It worked for me as a one-woman film with a commanding central performance from Kidman. I got restless watching it though, and that end sequence saved it for me.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a fan of Nicole Kidman, so I wouldn’t mind catching this film. I recently watched “Edge of Darkness,” starring Mel Gibson. Critics used the “nothing we haven’t seen before” argument to give it a low score, but the “ghost” angle did provide at least one distinguishing aspect, and also provided a softening effect to the conclusion. Anyway, i’ll watch anything with Mel Gibson in it, as well as anything he’s directed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeepers, that doesn’t look like her at all. I think it’s helpful when we don’t keep thinking “oh that’s so and so”. I like the idea of a surprise ending… those I’ve been reading lately on a certain blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the earlier timeline of the story, it is very much ‘Nicole Kidman’. That makes the contrast even better, and gave me even more respect for her acting too. I was surprised by the ending, but many reviewers were not. Might just have been ‘me’ then.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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