Nicole Kidman stars as Erin Bell in “Destroyer” (Photo Credit: Annapurna Pictures).
‘Destroyer’ Doesn’t Cause Much Destruction
Sometimes going undercover can mean going underground permanently, as in six feet deep.
Often, as described in numerous books about law enforcement like “Black Mass,” the undercover agents can become some ingratiated with criminals and a life of crime that it becomes hard to get out and get what they came for in the first place.
In “Destroyer,” FBI agents Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman, “Aquaman”) and Chris (Sebastian Stan) pull off the enormous feat of infiltrating a bank-robbing cult.
But the film pulls off nothing more than mediocrity.
From the beginning of “Destroyer,” it is clear that Bell has gone to hell and back as a law enforcement officer.
The wear and tear on her face is evident from the opening scenes.
And her life has become consumed with alcohol abuse and total dysfunction.
It is amazing that she is still allowed to keep her badge and remain in the field.
Although detectives have a murder scene under control, Bell makes it a point to stumble upon the scene and offer her two cents about the murder victim and the possible murderer.
At the murder scene, Bell notices a unique neck tattoo and purple-dyed money that immediately puts her on the hunt for the criminal mastermind Silas (Toby Kebbell) whose crew is known for that particular neck tattoo.
What makes the pending murder investigation so bad is that Silas and his crew had been dormant for over a decade.
For a time, Silas and his crew made robbing banks a sport.
And sometimes that sport meant the murder of anyone that tried to get into its way.
Silas’ crew was like a modern-day Charles Manson family where the women did anything Silas said and even began to look alike in their appearance.
Even the men in Silas’ crew were under his spell doing anything he asked them to do.
When Silas asks Arturo (Zach Villa) to playing Russian roulette, Arturo does so willingly even though three bullets remain in the pistol.
After Arturo survives the game of Russian roulette and with luck obviously on his side, Silas jokes that he should send Arturo out to buy lottery tickets.
For years, Bell and Chris tried like hell to bring down Silas and his crew, but to no avail.
And after the recent murder, Silas begins taunting Bell at the police station by sending her packages of mail that reminds her of her failed attempts to bring down Silas and his band of robbers.
The truth of the matter is that Bell and Chris were closer to bringing down Silas than anyone could have ever dreamed.
The failed Palm Springs incident still ways on Bell heavily.
But since he got away, Silas’ murderous tendencies haunt Bell and Chris because they know that if they had put him away over a decade ago the city of Los Angeles would not have to endure their current nightmare of having him running loose on the streets.
The regret of letting Silas get away the first time has ruined Bell’s relationship with her 16-year-old daughter, Shelby (Jade Pettyjohn).
Her young daughter has an absentee mother.
She begins to act out by dating grown men, not attending school and getting arrested.
Shelby wants nothing to do with her dysfunctional mother.
However, Bell wants what’s best for Shelby even if that means not having an actual physical relationship with her young daughter.
But in order for Bell to get things right with Shelby, she has to right the wrongs as it pertains to Silas.
Bringing down Silas will be the only thing that can relieve the pain in Bell’s past and bring about a more positive future as she moves forward in her career and with her family.
The problem with “Destroyer” is that the film about an undercover police officer infiltrating a crime organization has been done countless times like in the 1997 classic, “Donnie Brasco,” which starred Al Pacino and Johnny Depp.
Therefore, in order to standout “Destroyer” would have to cover some new ground or have Earth-shattering performances by its actors.
Unfortunately, “Destroyer” has neither.
The film “Destroyer” can boast of an almost unrecognizable Kidman.
But that still does not mean that Kidman delivered a stellar performance in the film.
Kidman’s performance was just average and not anything to write home about.
“Destroyer” also contains very few interesting scenes despite a subject matter that should be very interesting.
However, “Destroyer” does contain two scenes that are worth the price of admission.
Bell has a heart to heart conversation with Shelby that puts their relationship in perspective.
Hopefully, that conversation will mend any broken fences that stand between the mother and daughter.
Secondly, fireworks explode when Chris confronts the volatile Silas, putting all fear behind him in attempt to bring down the manipulative cult leader and criminal.
But those two intriguing scenes from “Destroyer” do not equal a great film, unfortunately.
However, “Destroyer” can rest in the reality that the ultimate conclusion in the film comes out of left field and it is totally unexpected.
Furthermore, “Destroyer” depicts the dangers that law enforcement officials endure on a daily basis.
Complicating matters even more is when those officers go undercover.
Undercover officers have to be award-winner actors all of the time to fool their criminal targets.
Additionally, undercover agents have to remain moral and not get swept up in the excitement and easy cash that comes from a life of crime.
And undercover agents always have to remain on their A-game because a mistake can result in a loss of life.
More importantly, if undercover agents are unsuccessful in their mission, that ensures that successful criminals remain on the street, remaining a danger to the general public.
Unfortunately, “Destroyer” is an unsuccessful and somewhat unrealistic film.
It is hard to believe that any police department would allow someone with as much baggage as Bell to keep a badge and a gun let alone go undercover.
Not paying attention to those little details prevents the film for becoming more than above average.