Destroyer is a soap opera with slivers of dirty soap. It can't remove the stain of indie pretension.
In one scene, Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) is a hellion with a soap dish. But that's the only limit on the soap.
Destroyer should be titled Destroy-her. Nicole Kidman gives an earnest, unexpected performance, but the film around her flops. Like Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born, Kidman is unrecognizable in the lead role. But Lady Gaga was in a stalwart movie; Kidman is in a clumsy one.
With a visage that is haggard and worn, Kidman has a glum expression throughout the film. Erin is a psychologically-wounded Los Angeles police detective with a violent past that has damned her present.
When the police find a body, it reawakens Erin. She says the body is a connection with her dire past. It brings back memories and reestablishes her commitment.
The cast generally is proficient, except for Toby Kebbell, who plays the villain Silas. He's negligible in the role, and fails to give Kidman a memorable adversary. It dulls whatever chemistry there might have been.
But the major drawback of Destroyer is the direction and writing. The erratic direction by Karya Kusama - from a convoluted screenplay by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay - results in a film that is all over the place. I think I even saw a kitchen sink in the bank scene.
The flashbacks are more disconcerting than effective. And the obvious ending - which is supposed to be lyrical - lacks impact.
Destroyer is not an ode of doom; it's a lode of gloom.
Nicole Kidman deserved better.