Long-time readers will know I have a particular general hatred of movies that contain shots of trees, blowing in the wind. Well, sadly, and despite the pretty awesome trailer, Destroyer is one such film.
Just as you should never judge a book by its cover, you should also never judge a movie by its trailer, despite that being the general purpose of them, because they can be manipulated to make the movie look however they like.
In this case, I feel like I’ve been cheated. Destroyer looked like an awesome action film, with Kidman (“Aquaman“, “Lion“) on top form as we’ve never seen her before, kicking ass and being distinctly un-Kidman-like.
Instead, what we’ve actually got from writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (“R.I.P.D.”, “Ride Along”) and director Karyn Kusama (“Aeon Flux”, “The Invitation”), is a dull, turgid affair told in flashback that has all the pace of a snail. On crutches. Moving through treacle.
Kidman is Erin Bell, a detective who doesn’t play by the rules, obviously. When she was younger she did some work for the FBI and her and her partner Chris, Sebastian Stan (“I, Tonya“, “Avengers: Infinity War“), got mixed up with some bank robbers lead by Silas (yes really, Silas, like the name they used to give bad-guys in 90’s movies), Toby Kebbell (“War For The Planet Of The Apes“, “Kong: Skull Island“).
One particular bank-job goes horribly wrong and some people, including Chris, wind up getting killed, to which Erin attributes to being her fault. Everyone splits and no-one is seen or head from for years.
Fast forward some years and Erin is now a detective, mostly drunk, looks like crap, and happens upon a dead body which makes her believe that Silas is back, and this time she’s determined to get him, on her own.
The back story, I’ve just quickly ran through, is told in flashbacks to us as Erin, slowly, makes her way from clue to clue to try and find Silas. The flashbacks show Kidman as we know her and it is a remarkable transformation between the two Erin’s and a fantastic performance from Kidman.
Make no mistake, this is a truly stunning performance from Kidman, she rocks and rolls and performs like we’ve never seen her and she does it brilliantly.
But the pace is slow, really slow, the story is predictable and, because it’s so slow, you get there far before the film does, meaning you’re waiting for it to catch up, which is frustrating.
There is a side story to Erin’s revenge one, which sees her try to be a mother to her daughter Shelby, Jade Pettyjohn (“School Of Rock (TV)”, “Kill The King”), and occasionally berate father Ethan, Scoot McNairy (“Argo“, “War Machine“) criminally reduced to a few short scenes.
Destroyer is one of those movies that critics will love; “oh look how the director framed that shot of trees blowing in the wind” they’ll say, or things along those lines. It’s got a stunning lead performance, long-drawn out shots, a bit of action and a story with twists and turns.
Some of those things are great, really great, but some are just bloating in an already slow film.