Destroyer (5 stars)

Destroyer

LFF 2018: Nicole Kidman puts in a transformative performance as an alcoholic LAPD detective on the hunt for revenge

Director Karyn Kusama has crafted an intensely menacing LA noir starring a phenomenal Nicole Kidman as a grizzled, alcoholic police detective on the hunt for bloody revenge. It's a transformative role that calls for Kidman to be dirtied up, bruised and battered with her eyes sunken into her skull as LAPD officer Erin Bell.

A bank job gone wrong haunts Bell's every waking moment. Sent undercover in her early days as a cop, her connection to a gang of coke snorting thieves and a relationship with her fellow detective Chris (Sebastian Stan) punches aggressively to the surface when the wicked mastermind behind it all reappears to taunt Bell. The film switches between Bell's memories of that period 17 years ago, and her troubled personal life and career.

The heist is exhilaratingly tense, and the time spent with the gang in their grubby den has glimmers of Kathryn Bigelow's Point Break. But this isn't a band of adrenaline-seeking surfers – the drug addiction aspect lends the film a nastier vibe. Led by a long-haired Toby Kebbell, who could easily pass for Lestat from Interview with the Vampire, their dynamic is like a pressure cooker about to explode.

The combination of Kusama's ability to whip up a viciously intimidating pulpy ambience and Kidman's mesmerising performance effectively amplifies Bell's pain. A furious ball of anger, she's an unforgettable character who reinvigorates the genre by her gender as she boldly roars lines like, "This is a fucking gunfight!"

Yet Bell's sense of loss, grief, rage and loneliness are palpable, and never let up as she marches across the city kicking the crap out of men, calling for accountability and desperately attempting to atone for her sins. Her brutal odyssey is complemented by a growling score by Theodore Shapiro; his repeated use of two crunching guitar notes, that has a similar effect to Jaws in announcing Bell's relentless presence as she prowls for prey.

Screening on Mon 15 Oct and Sun 20 Oct as part of the London Film Festival. General release from Fri 25 Jan, 2019

Destroyer

  • 5 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 2h 3min
  • Directed by: Karyn Kusama
  • Cast: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany

LAPD officer Erin Bell (Kidman) is haunted by an event 17 years earlier, as she searches for revenge. Kidman is transformed as the grizzled, alcoholic Bell and Kusama whips up the pulpy ambience as Bell marches across the city kicking the crap out of people and trying to atone for her sins. Menacing and powerful.

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