The big twist to Destroyer is that Nicole Kidman isn’t the only actor performing under prosthetics. Most of the cast – including Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany and James Jordan – gets aged up as well. The story shifts back and forth between the present day, as Kidman’s haggard police detective chases down a killer who’s resurfaced after 17 years in hiding, and the undercover operation where they first crossed paths.
It’s standard neo-noir stuff, and reasonably satisfying. But when Kusama strips the story down to its essentials – as in the centrepiece sequence that slides from stakeout to shootout to street chase, with minimal dialogue and Kidman and Maslany’s physicalities doing more work than their makeup – you can see a better, meaner neo-noir pulsing underneath.
I wish I could have seen that instead: a version where the script spends more time showing than telling, one where the crosscutting between past and present timelines creates emotional resonance rather than underlining everything to ensure we don’t miss the echoes, and maybe one that eases up on the Foxcatcher thing where purportedly realistic makeup serves only to remind you that you’re watching an actor mistake effort for performance.