Kidman kills it as hard-nosed cop in crime thriller Destroyer

Nicole Kidman as Erin Bell in Destroyer.
Nicole Kidman as Erin Bell in Destroyer.

NICOLE Kidman is almost unrecognisable as hardened detective Erin Bell in LA-set crime thriller Destroyer.

Her face encased in aging make-up, Kidman as Bell staggers between drinking alone in bars and sleeping in her car to tracking down gang leader Silas (Toby Kebbell), who she believes is active again.

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The film reveals in flashbacks that a younger Bell and her former partner Chris (Sebastian Stan) were undercover cops living with Silas’ gang to take them down from the inside.

Meanwhile in the present, Bell is dealing with how to be a mother to her 16-year-old daughter Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn), who truants from school and hangs out in clubs with her much older boyfriend.

While Destroyer offers some great performances, including from Kidman and especially from Stan, the story stretches thinly across two hours and multiple scenes feel self indulgent without propelling the story forward.

The flashbacks take their time to reveal what happened to Bell and Chris that caused her to become the harsh and self-destructive person of the present timeline.

When that begins to unfold, the film becomes substantially more compelling and a further twist at the end caused the audience to gasp collectively.

Destroyer hits all the beats of its genre and works as a vehicle for Kidman to show her range as an actor, but struggles to feel like an authentic portrayal of its subject matter.

THE ESSENTIALS

Destroyer (MA)

Directed by: Karyn Kusama

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Tatiana Maslany

Three stars

Review by Lucy Rutherford

In cinemas now