The only reason I can think of to endure sitting through “Destroyer” is to see a different Nicole Kidman on screen. Instead of her well-appreciated beauty, here she is a barely recognizable, vengeful cop with emphasis on making her as plain-looking as she is lethal. Her character is also extremely troubled, and Kidman proves again she can act effectively whether gorgeous or gritty.
However, “Destroyer” itself, directed by Karyn Kusama from a screenplay by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, is a hodgepodge of a tale, with awkward shifts between the present and flashbacks as we get a portrait of a life gone awry. Erin Bell (Kidman) was a former FBI agent working undercover, but an episode went terribly wrong and she has berated herself ever since, while sinking into a haze of alcohol.
But in the present Bell is pulling herself together from her long funk and seeking to gain retribution. We get a picture of her as a tough broad skilled with weaponry and ready for action, and there is even a scene in which Bell masturbates a guy from her past in order to gain information from him. It is Kidman anew, and that makes her particularly watchable as she goes through the convoluted script, which also depicts her having problems as a mother of a rebellious and resentful daughter.
There is a strong supporting cast making up the assortment of characters, good and bad. But the story, heavy with violent action, is often confusing and not worth the trouble of wending one’s way through it. Yes, Kusama directs with panache, but to what end? An Annapurna Pictures release. Reviewed Dec. 25, 2018.