Destroyer

 

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Nicole Kidman returns in a leading role but cannot stop acting.

   
Destroyer

High drama: Nicole Kidman and Tatiana Maslany

 

The destroyer of the title is presumably Erin Bell, who pretty much has wrecked everything that she has ever held dear. This is revealed in a series of parallel waves, in which we see Erin as an attractive young cop and later as a washed-up, alcoholic has-been who sleeps in her car. It’s quite a part and Nicole Kidman grabs it with both hands, permitting the camera to zoom into the very atoms of her blemished, ageing skin and every taint provided by the make-up department. She cuts a haggard, haunted figure and undoubtedly lost a lot of weight for the part. After a series of supporting roles, Ms Kidman obviously felt it was time to take centre stage again and she hasn’t let the opportunity slip. But too often she seems to be acting.

 

Under Karyn Kusama's direction, the film itself feels no more special than an episode of NCIS. And, like Kidman’s performance, Kusama's direction tries hard to impress. The result is that it’s difficult to believe anything. As the viper who’s re-emerged to strike fear into the hearts of those who once knew him, Toby Kebbell exudes menace with little effort, while nearly everybody else tries to make their time on camera count (Bradley Whitford, as another miscreant, is a perfect case in point). The thing is, if one doesn’t believe, one doesn’t care and for all the hell that Kidman puts herself through, the effect is uninvolving. By comparison, Sebastian Stan – who sparred with Margot Robbie in I, Tonya – does very little as a fellow detective, but inhabits his role to such an extent that he’s like a real cop who’s drifted onto the set by accident. And consequently we feel for the guy.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Scoot McNairy, Beau Knapp, Jade Pettyjohn, James Jordan, Toby Huss, Bradley Whitford, Sebastian Stan.

 

Dir Karyn Kusama, Pro Fred Berger, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, Screenplay Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, Ph Julie Kirkwood, Pro Des Kay Lee, Ed Plummy Tucker, Music Theodore Shapiro, Costumes Audrey Fisher.

 

30West/Automatik Entertainment-Lionsgate.

120 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 25 January 2018. Cert. 15.