Destroyer is a gritty, poignant film with an arthouse feel to it. Directed by Karyn Kusama, cast members include a nearly unrecognizable Nicole Kidman in the lead role of LAPD detective Erin Bell.
Bell arrives on the scene of a murder who hasn’t been identified and tells officers that she knows who the victim is. Bell looks rough and exhausted, having been worn down by years of alcohol abuse. Upon returning to the police station, Bell receives an unmarked envelope containing a $100 bill stained from a dye pack.
She takes it to a contact at the and they’re able to confirm that the bill is from a bank robbery committed by a gang a number of years ago. Bell and her then-partner Chris (Sebastian Stan) were undercover officers and embedded with the gang. She tells her superiors about her belief that the bill and the John Doe murder are proof of the resurgence of the gang’s leader, Silas (Toby Kebbell).
Erin begins to reach out to the remaining members of the gang in the hopes of tracking down Silas. She starts with Toby (James Jordan), who was freed from prison on compassionate release due to a terminal illness and is now living with his mother (Jan Hoag). Bell gives him a handjob in exchange for the location of Arturo (Zach Villa), another member of the gang. She finds him giving pro bono legal advice to immigrants to help make amends for his past actions. He provides Erin with the location of Dennis DiFranco, an attorney who was responsible for laundering the money from the robbery. She gets the idea from him that Silas is has become active once again because the money is almost gone. After threatening DiFranco, he gives Erin the location of the next money hand-off to Silas’ girlfriend, Petra (Tatiana Maslany). Erin follows Petra and ends up intervening in a bank robbery perpetrated by Silas’ new gang. She forcefully continues her hunt for Silas.
Flashbacks are often shown during the film, telling the backstory of Bell and Chris’ involvement with the gang. The two entered into a romantic relationship and she eventually became pregnant with his child. The robbery goes south when a dye pack ends up exploding in one of the bags; Silas killed the bank teller who placed it. When Chris attempted to stop Silas, he was shot and killed.
Destroyer is a lovely film but quite slow in some parts. The flashbacks only make it feel longer. Despite the slowness, I enjoyed myself. The story is compelling and keeps you engaged until the ending, which is quite confusing and left a lot to be desired. In spite of the issues, the acting was top-notch throughout and I especially loved the Los Angeles location shots.
I give Destroyer three out of five stars.