Destroyer Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: Nicole Kidman, who got used to her character; the entire cast is at a decent level; chronology of events; key events are not revealed immediately Cons: the make-up artists overdid the appearance of detective Erin “Time of Vengeance” / Destroyer

Genre crime drama
Directed by Karyn Kusama
Cast: Nicole Kidman (Erin Bell), Sebastian Stan (Chris), Toby Kebbell (Silas), Tatiana Maslany (Petra), Zach Villa (Arturo), Bradley Whitford (DiFranco), Scoot McNairy (Ethan), Jade Pettyjohn (Shelby) , Toby Huss (Jill), etc.
Studios 30West, Automatik Entertainment
Year of release 2018 (in Ukraine 2019)
Site IMDb

The film opens with LAPD detective Erin (Nicole Kidman) arriving at a crime scene where the body of a man is found surrounded by marked bills. One of these bills is anonymously sent to Erin’s office, reminding her of the tragic incident that ruined her life. The heroine knows the sender and tries to find him, remembering the events of 17 years ago. Then she and undercover agent Chris (Sebastian Stan) infiltrated the gang, trying to uncover the criminals’ plans.

The events of the film Destroyer (I would like to mention only the original title of the film, which conveys more meaning) are presented in an interesting order. The viewer sees Erin in the present – she looks like a person who does not care about her life. Colleagues and family shun her, but the heroine herself does not care what impression she makes on others. At the same time, the director shows the complete opposite of this woman – the same Erin, but 17 years ago, who had a completely different appearance. The desire to understand what happened to her and what caused the complete destruction firmly holds attention until the very climax of the film. Moreover, the ending is also the revelation that the viewer craves.


Naturally, while watching Erin’s downfall, you also think about Nicole Kidman’s performance. This is definitely one of her best roles, for which the actress was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. It didn’t get to the point of being nominated for an Oscar, and there are reasons for this.

Kidman, without a doubt, did a great job as a detective gone wrong. Her movements, her gaze – everything speaks of her reluctance to continue the struggle for existence. At the same time, rage has been boiling inside her for years, which is the driving force into the abyss. To show Erin many years after an unpleasant event for her, make-up artists resort to noticeable transformations on the actress’s body. She gets bags under her eyes, and the skin on her arms, neck and face is aged to look like it belongs to an elderly person who has spent her entire life under the scorching Los Angeles sun. The result is truly impressive – Nicole’s character becomes almost a living corpse, which, by inertia, continues to live. At the same time, seeing Nicole Kidman’s emotions becomes problematic due to the careful makeup, which practically turns into a mask. And this makes her performance not as flawless as it could be without heavy makeup.


In addition to Kidman, the lead in the cast is Sebastian Stan, who took a break from The Avengers for a crime action movie. In the story, he and Erin pose as a criminal in order to expose the real lawbreakers. His character gradually begins to appear in flashbacks, not being on screen as long as Nicole, but still playing an extremely important role. Perhaps this is another worthwhile film for the actor after his participation in the biographical drama “Tonya Against the World.”


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And Destroyer is certainly worth attention, although it was passed over by the American Film Academy. Director Karyn Kusama delivers a film that feels like a feature-length, less dark version of True Detective. The film is filled with a tired and depressing atmosphere, partly reflecting the heroine’s state of mind. The production designer also did a great job here, creating a special color scheme that sets off the city dust, illuminated by the sun’s rays. All this fits well with the restless soundtrack that repeats throughout the film.

Quite often, crime films offer to watch the fall of the main character, but here it’s the other way around: Destroyer piece by piece puts together puzzles for the viewer that will certainly fit into the overall picture. Two hours are worth it to understand what event from the past is gnawing at the detective.


The film Destroyer does not fall into the detective genre, but this does not prevent it from gradually revealing the secrets of the main characters. Thanks to this, the film maintains intrigue, and interest is fueled by Nicole Kidman’s acting – she has never been seen in such a role.

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