Destroyer Nicole Kidman Stars as Obsessed Detective in Riveting Revenge Thriller
Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) is a veteran LAPD detective whose partner, Chris (Sebastian Stan), died when his cover was blown during an undercover operation gone bad. Courtesy of flashbacks, we learn that he was murdered by Silas (Toby Kebbell), the leader of the gang of bank robbers the two had infiltrated.
At the time, Erin and Chris were also lovers, and she was pregnant with his baby. Fast forward 16 years and we find the single-mom doing a miserable job of raising their rebellious daughter, Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn), who is presently under the spell of a surly slacker (Beau Knapp) already in his twenties.
The problem is that ghost-like Erin ostensibly never recovered from the loss of Chris. Haggard, pale and rudderless, she’s ostensibly still haunted by the fact that Silas and his henchmen vanished with the millions stolen in the heist and were never apprehended.
A crack in the long-dormant case arrives when some incriminating evidence at a crime scene indicates that the gang has finally resurfaced. The clues revitalize traumatized Erin who goes rogue on an obsessed, one-woman quest to track down Silas.
Thus unfolds Destroyer, a riveting, relentless, revenge-fueled thriller directed by Karyn Kusama (Aeon Flux). Nicole Kidman deservedly landed a Golden Globe nomination for her unforgettable performance as the picture’s hard-boiled heroine. She’s virtually rendered unrecognizable by a very demanding role as a self-abusing, shell of a human-turned-wanton vigilante.
Besides Kidman brilliantly playing against type, this nihilistic neo noir features a capable cast deftly executing a convoluted, cat-and-mouse screenplay in convincing fashion. A must-see tale of female empowerment representing the best work yet by director Kusama.
Excellent (4 stars) Rated R for violence, sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity Running time: 123 minutes Production Companies: 30 West / Automatik Entertainment Studio: Annapurna Pictures
OPENING THIS WEEK Kam’s Kapsules Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun For movies opening Jan. 11, 2019
A Dog’s Way Home (PG for peril, mild epithets and mature themes) Adaptation of W. Bruce Cameron’s best seller of the same name about a pet pooch (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) that embarks on a very eventful, 400-mile journey after being separated from her owner (Jonah Hauer-King). With Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos and Alexandra Shipp.
Replicas (PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, mature themes, nudity and sexual references) Sci-fi thriller about a biologist (Keanu Reeves) willing to violate his scientific ethical principles to resurrect his family after a tragic car accident. Cast includes Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch and Emjay Anthony.
The Upside (PG-13 for drug use and suggestive content) English language remake of The Intouchables, the 2011 French dramedy inspired by the real-life relationship of a paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston) and the ex-con (Kevin Hart) he hires as a live-in caregiver. With Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies and Aja Naomi King.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
Anthem of a Teenage Prophet (Unrated) Coming-of-age drama about the fallout visited upon a clairvoyant teen (Cameron Monaghan) whose premonition about the death of his best friend (Alex MacNicoll) becomes a reality. With Juliette Lewis, Peyton List and Grayson Gabriel.
Ashes in the Snow (Unrated) World War II saga, set in Siberia in 1941, revolving around a 16-year-old, aspiring artist (Bel Powley) whose secret drawings document her family’s ordeal in a Soviet labor camp. Cast includes Sophie Cookson, Peter Franzen and James Cosmo.
The Aspern Papers (R for some nudity and sexuality) Adaptation of Henry James’ novella of the same name, set in Venice in 1885, about a young writer’s (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) attempt to read the collection of romantic letters sent decades earlier by a famous poet (Jon Kortajarena) to his mistress (Vanessa Redgrave). With Joely Richardson, Lois Robbins and Morgane Polanski (Roman’s daughter).
Perfect Strangers (Unrated) Spanish language remake of the 2016 Italian comedy about seven friends who agree to read aloud all their incoming text messages during a revealing dinner party. Co-starring Belen Rueda, Eduard Fernandez, Ernesto Alterio, Juana Acosta, Eduardo Noriega, Dafne Fernandez and Pepon Nieto. (In Spanish with subtitles.)
Sgt. Will Gardner (Unrated) Max Martini wrote, directed and stars in this poignant portrait of an Iraq War vet suffering from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury who attempts to pick up the pieces of his broken life during a cross-country motorcycle trip. Featuring Gary Sinise, Omari Hardwick, Dermot Mulroney and Robert Patrick.
Tall Tales (PG for mature themes) Animated comedy about a kindhearted cricket (Justin Long) framed for the kidnapping of the queen bee (Kate Mara) by her treacherous cousin (Anne Tilloy). Voice cast includes Kev Adams and Haley Chey Lynch.
The Untold Story (Unrated) Against the odds dramedy revolving around an aging Hollywood icon (Barry Van Dyke) inspired to mount a comeback by his new next-door neighbor (Nia Peeples). Supporting cast includes Jordan Ladd, Miko Hughes and Joe Lando.