By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
You quite likely know about Destroyer from photos of Nicole Kidman’s transformation, which, yes, is intense.
Good thing she didn’t Daniel Day-Lewis this role. Because all of the meth.
Destroyer is about an LAPD officer who once upon a time went undercover in a brutal bank robbery gang and got in too deep. Many, very hard, years later she finds evidence that the cutthroat leader of the gang, who she has a very personal vendetta against, may be getting back into the game, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.
Kidman does indeed transform, but what’s remarkable is how much she really doesn’t. This is no makeup play for an Oscar, but rather an embodiment of both a much younger and a much, much more haggard woman across two time frames that never feels less than one fully lived in character. I think we get spoiled by both the frequency of Kidman’s roles and their never-dipping quality to the point we get blinded to just how many acting limbs she goes out on these days.
It’s not often that the 51 year old cast alongside the 42 and the 27 year old is the one with all of the nudity and whacking of Alexander Skarsgard dick.
On the supporting side, Toby Kebbell and Bradley Whitford drip menace in two very different ways, and there officially isn’t enough Tatiana Maslany on the big or small screen these days, so it’s good to see her here in a role that mirrors Kidman’s in many ways. It’s Sebastian Stan who comes closest to stealing the screen from Kidman for stretches, however- here’s hoping the man keeps getting opportunities to capital-A Act in the near future.
Besides Kidman, though, Director Karyn Kusama is the real star here, directing the action with hard-hitting immediacy that rivals or supersedes any other action director working today. This is as bone-rattling of an action film as any that landed this year, including Kidman’s 56 year old ex-hubby’s latest Mission: Impossible flick.
Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi’s script doesn’t have an ounce of fat on it even as you wonder where it’s going, and as the ending shifts into focus you realize the brilliance of its main conceit- there’s more going on here than meets the eye. The character relationships and core heart of the film lock into place just as firmly in the last stretches of the film as well, reaching an emotional crescendo you didn’t realize the film was building towards. Just powerful stuff.
Destroyer is a showcase for the chameleonic acting prowess of Nicole Kidman and the action chops of Karyn Kusama, who’s quickly becoming one of our most exciting directors.
Destroyer (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Kidman takes a licking and keeps on ticking
Take a Drink: every time her daughter’s skeevy boyfriend shows his face
Take a Drink: every time the movie flashes back
Take a Drink: every time somebody does something ethically dubious
Do a Shot: for every bank robbery or gunfight