Destroyer Blu-ray Review

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Nicole Kidman goes dark for an almost unrecognisable turn

by Casimir Harlow May 26, 2019 at 8:04 AM

  • Movies & TV review


    Destroyer Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £15.00

    Destroyer Film Review

    Driven by a tour-de-force performance from Kidman - not just the best thing that she's done in years, but a high point in her entire career - Destroyer is like a 70s hard-boiled detective noir which has been stuck in pre-production for the last half-century.

    Director Karyn Kusuma - whose career got off to a great start with the impressive debut that was Girlfight, but subsequently was immediately derailed for the flawed Aeon Flux adaptation, and who has since done that rare good Megan Fox film in Jennifer's Body and the little-seen The Invitation (worth hunting down on Netflix) - fashions an accomplished crime drama out of undeniably familiar ingredients, all thrown into a non-linear mixing bowl with the common thread throughout being Kidman's standout performance.

    The story follows battered LAPD Detective Erin Bell, who is in for the longest few days of her life, finding out that an old enemy has resurfaced she trawls through past criminal contacts - using blood, sweat and dirty tears - in order to settle an outstanding debt. She looks like a dead woman walking, frequently drunk, hated by her teenage daughter who chose to live with her ex rather than her, and with very little to live for and too much hurt to live with, charted out in flashbacks to her deep undercover work with a gang of armed robbers, work which took her to the edge - and beyond.

    Destroyer hits hard and doesn't pull any punches, leaving a lasting impression once the credits roll

    Destroyer feels like a movie that could have been made 30 years ago and would now be heralded as a classic - and if they'd cast Kidman off the back of Dead Calm her career might have gone in a completely different direction. Indeed, the difference here is perhaps the female lead, but that doesn't really change the fact that the story is quintessentially familiar. What defines it - as with all the memorable gems in the sub-genre - is the power of the lead performance, irrespective of sex. It's Kidman who owns this movie, taking you through some of the longest nights in her character's life, through the seedy streets of LA, in search of justice, redemption and maybe even finally, peace. Or just in search of some heads to crack and some people to shoot - both things she does exceptionally well.

    A number of familiar faces offer support - from Winter Soldier's Sebastian Stan, to Toby Kebbell, who is a long way from Dead Man's Shoes now, to Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany, The West Wing's Bradley Whitford and Scoot McNairy (recently in True Detective Season 3) - and they all do well to colour the fringes but it's Kidman who holds your focus. Impeccable makeup makes her almost unrecognisable in the present, although it's perhaps the flashbacks that are the most striking - she looks more natural and beautiful than she has done in years (and enjoys palpable chemistry with Stan). The jarring shift helps remind you of just what her character has been through in the intervening years, keeping the mystery rich and intoxicating as you try and get a bead on what drives this hard boiled machine of a detective to get up every morning when she looks almost as likely to just blow her own brains out.

    It's a powerful character-driven piece, and Kusama doesn't hold back in the style department either, often some beautiful and poignant shots and an immersive score that thrums throughout and positively comes alive during a couple of key shootout sequences, with a visceral energy that permeates the piece. One of those rare occurrences where the hyperbole of 'Kidman as you've never seen her before' actually rings true - Destroyer hits hard and doesn't pull any punches, leaving a lasting impression once the credits roll.

    Destroyer Blu-ray Picture

    Destroyer Destroyer Blu-ray Picture
    Lionsgate brings Destroyer to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray with what initially looks to be the exact same excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation that adorned Fox's preceding US disc, delivered in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.

    A largely excellent video presentation

    Digitally shot but manipulated to look - very authentically - like a classic gritty noir, Destroyer has all the benefits of both, with impressive detail commensurate with a digital production, but rich texturing that gives it that quintessential filmic look. Specific stylisation leaves the image frequently blowing hot and cold, with overblown whites and a bleached-out palette lending a distinctive look to the feature, but never at the expense of the integrity of the image, or the colour tones on offer. It's a largely excellent video presentation that perfectly reflects the intended style of the piece.

    Destroyer Blu-ray Sound

    Destroyer Destroyer Blu-ray Sound
    The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does an equally impressive job with the aural elements, remaining arguably just as demo in its presentation of the same, offering up dialogue, score and effects with equal respect and verve.

    The audio track does an equally impressive job

    Dialogue remains firmly prioritised throughout the proceedings, revelling in Kidman's increasingly (or intermittently, given it's more applicable in her 'modern' guise) hoarse voice, and affording it clarity and coherence throughout. Effects are occasionally really quite thunderous, particularly in the defining robbery setpiece, with handgun and shotgun blasts booming across the stage, as well as thunderous assault rifle shots spinning around your living room.

    The score is something of a curiosity, at times delivering stunning precision percussion which only enhances the key setpieces (like that aforementioned heist), but also going OTT in the strings department, where restraint really would have been preferable. Nevertheless, it's well represented here, rounding out a very good track indeed.

    Destroyer Blu-ray Extras

    Destroyer Destroyer Blu-ray Extras
    Destroyer comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray utterly devoid of extras, which makes little sense considering that Fox released it in the US complete with a selection of strong features headlined by not one but two Audio Commentaries, the first a solo effort from the Director and the second a double-act provided by the co-writers.

    Destroyer comes to Region B-locked Blu-ray devoid of extras, which makes little sense considering that Fox released it in the US with a selection of strong features

    Also losing a Featurette, Gallery and Trailers, it makes little sense that we get a completely bare bones package, but, to compound the issue those who are not multi-region will be unable to play the US Region A-locked disc in any event.

    Destroyer Blu-ray Verdict

    Destroyer Destroyer Blu-ray Verdict
    Destroyer feels like a movie that could have been made 30 years ago and would now be heralded as a classic

    Lionsgate brings Destroyer to the UK with what initially looks to be an exact port of Fox's preceding US release, doing justice to the excellent little throwback noir with superb video and audio then dropping the ball by losing all the previously available extras on that Region A disc. It's well worth checking out, and the disc is still a worthy purchase, particularly if you're Region B locked.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.00

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