The years on the force have not been kind to detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman). When we first meet the weathered officer, she is stumbling her way to a murder scene she has no right being at. While her colleagues are quick to dismiss the dead body as another John Doe, Bell instantly realizes that an unresolved case from her past has resurfaced.

Forced to confront her traumatic time as an undercover cop, in which she and her partner Chris (Sebastian Stan) got in way over their heads, Bell is determined to settle an old score with the elusive crime boss Silas (Toby Kebbell). Willing to do whatever it takes to track down Silas, while trying to reconnect with a daughter (Jade Pettyjohn) she has been horrible mother to, a battered Bell steps back into the seedy underworld of Los Angeles like a wrecking ball broken off from its chain.

Joining the ranks of memorable cops, such as Dirty Harry and Bud White, who played by their own rules, Kidman’s Erin Bell is a sight to behold. While it is easy to credit the make-up team for the character’s ragged look, it is Kidman’s physical performance that makes Bell such a fascinating and complex individual. She is not superhuman by any means, but her relentless determination and decisions, some which still haunt her, have clearly taken a toll on her mentally and physically.

Director Karyn Kusama once again shows why she is one of the most versatile and underrated directors working today. Constructing a gritty thriller that feels authentic while keeping one on the edge of their seat, Kusama displays a detailed understanding of both the environment and the characters within it. Her camera quietly observes the depths Bell is willing to go, while conveying a sense of dread for the violence and deceit that lurks around every corner. This is especially apparent in the tension she builds during a shootout in a bank.

Destroyer is a thrilling exploration of a cop whose only hope for redemption is to go further into the darkness.

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