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Destroyer: Unapologetically No Good

As children, in stories, books, and movies, it was clear who was the good guy and who was the bad guy. But as we grew up, the distinction started to blur with films where robbers, killers, and gangsters were considered “good guys.” However, there is something incredibly refreshing about a protagonist who is unapologetically not good, and Destroyer is a prime example. 

Destroyer follows cop Erin Belle (Nichole Kidman) as, haunted by an undercover job gone horribly wrong, she attempts to bring the leader of the cartel (Toby Kebbell) she used to report on to justice, deal with crushing guilt, and end a nightmare that has been going on way too long.

The film’s plot is pretty straight forward and perhaps just a bit too predictable, but its point was not to surprise but rather be a deep insight into what trauma and guilt can do to a person, and it succeeds at that. Little details like never seeing Belle eat, her constant collapsing, and her zoned out moments in her car make for a subtle but powerful insight into her obviously messed-up psyche.

The pace was a bit too slow for many audience members, with events unfolding slowly enough that the audience has already guessed what is to come next. The film also includes several shootouts and action scenes that would have given the film life if they were presented at a much faster pace.

Nicole Kidman’s physical transformation is a major advantage of the film. She looks almost unrecognisable with the messiest of haircuts, white hair, pale old looking skin, and bloodshot eyes. Her appearance helps the audience forget it’s her, forget this is a movie, and concentrate on the character and the story that is unfolding.

Another major plus with the character is how unapologetically awful she is; Belle admits to all her sins, accepts the blame, and even blatantly says she is a bad woman and it is all her fault. The point of the film is not that you fall in love with the main character, or even sympathise with her but, rather to give insight into the life-destroying repercussions of a really bad decision.

For the acting, Nichole Kidman did a marvellous job where audiences forgot who she is and she truly became her character to them. It was not just the excellent makeup and hair, but also everything from her crumbling body language to her vacant facial expressions. Toby Kebbell was more on the mediocre side, in that he didn’t really strike as the sadistic killer and manipulator he was set out to be. The filmmakers did a lot to make Kebbell seem that way, with several slow-motion shots and close-ups, but maybe the casting choice was not the right one.

Destroyer may be a bit too slow paced and immensely grim but, it is shocking and captivating. It is not for everyone, but if you wonder what it would be like to make a bad decision that can haunt you for the rest of your life, here is your chance to find out.


Like This? Try

Monster (2003), Salt (2010), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), The Hours (2002). 

360 Tip

Nicole Kidman stated that she got the flu during filming, but powered through and tried to use it in her performance. For the final scene in the movie with her character's daughter, Kidman said she was so sick while filming she could "barely stand."

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