Destroyer (2018 film)

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Destroyer poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKaryn Kusama
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyJulie Kirkwood
Edited byPlummy Tucker
Music byTheodore Shapiro
Distributed byMirror Releasing
Release dates
  • August 31, 2018 (2018-08-31) (Telluride)
  • December 25, 2018 (2018-12-25) (United States)
Running time
123 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$9–12.4 million[2][3]
Box office$5.6 million[4]

Destroyer is a 2018 American crime drama film directed by Karyn Kusama and written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. It stars Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, and Sebastian Stan, and follows a former undercover police officer who takes revenge against members of a gang, years after her case was blown.

The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on August 31, 2018 and was released in the United States on December 25, 2018, by Annapurna Pictures. It received generally positive response from critics who mainly praised Kidman's performance but was a box office disappointment grossing $5.6 million on a $9–12.4 million budget. At the 76th Golden Globe Awards, Kidman was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama.


LAPD detective Erin Bell arrives on the scene of a John Doe murder and informs the responding officers that she knows the identity of the murderer.

At the police station, Erin receives a $100 bill stained from a dye pack in an unmarked envelope. Using a contact at the FBI, she confirms that the bill is from a bank robbery committed by a California gang sixteen years prior that she and her former partner, FBI agent Chris, were embedded in as undercover officers. She tells her superiors that she believes the bill to be proof that the gang's leader, Silas, is once again active.

Erin works her way through the remaining members of the gang in order to find Silas. She begins with Toby, who was in prison but is now gravely ill and living with his mother on compassionate release. She gives him a handjob in exchange for the location of Arturo, a member of the gang atoning for his past crimes by offering pro bono legal services to immigrants. Arturo provides Erin with the location of Dennis DiFranco, a lawyer who launders the multi-million dollar haul from the original robbery and from whom Erin deduces that Silas is active again because the money from that heist is almost gone. After Erin thrashes him, DiFranco gives her the location of the next money drop, which is performed by Silas' girlfriend Petra, who has developed a severe drug addiction. Erin tracks Petra, eventually intervening in a bank robbery committed by Silas' new gang. She and Petra brutally injure each other in a fight, ending with Erin abducting Petra.

Flashbacks reveal that Erin and Chris developed a romantic relationship while undercover, with Erin eventually becoming pregnant, later having their daughter, Shelby. At Erin's behest, they decided to become legitimate participants in a bank robbery and planned to take their shares of the heist, report to their superiors that they lost contact with the gang, and eventually quit the force. The robbery was botched when a dye pack exploded in one of the bags, and Silas killed the bank teller who accidentally placed it. When Chris attempted to intervene, he was shot and killed by Silas. After crashing the van against a dumpster and seriously injuring Toby, Erin hid her share of the heist and returned to policing, disclosing neither her original plan nor her share of the heist.

In the present, Erin visits Ethan, Shelby's adoptive father, and later talks with Shelby. Erin visits a self storage unit to retrieve her $300,000+ share of the stolen money, but finds that all but $11,000 is stained with dye. Silas sends a text message to Petra's phone, instructing her to meet him at the Bowtie Park, where Erin confronts and shoots him, avenging Chris. She returns the next morning to find the police investigating the crime scene: the John Doe murder investigation depicted in the first scene of the film. With Silas dead, Erin gives evidence of her guilt – where he can find Petra, a stained bill, and the key to her storage unit – to her partner, Antonio. Erin has been bleeding internally for hours, from injuries she sustained during a beating by DiFranco's bodyguard and in her fight with Petra, and she dies while sitting in her car.



In August 2017, Nicole Kidman entered into talks to star in the film with Karyn Kusama directing, with the casting confirmed in October. Rocket Science helped arrange the financing and is repping international sales.[5][6] In November, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Bradley Whitford, Toby Kebbell, and Scoot McNairy were added to the cast, and filming commenced in Los Angeles in early December, with the rest of the cast filled out with the additions of Beau Knapp, Jade Pettyjohn, Toby Huss, Zach Villa, and James Jordan.[7][8][9]


In May 2018, Annapurna Pictures acquired distribution rights to the film.[10] It had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on August 31, 2018.[11][12] It was also screened at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, in the Platform program.[13] It was also screened at AFI Fest on November 13, 2018.[14] It was released on December 25, 2018.[15]


Box office[edit]

Destroyer made $1.5 million in the United States, and $4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $5.5 million.[4]

The film made $58,572 from three theaters in its opening weekend, a six-day total of $115,661.[16]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 74% based on 270 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Destroyer's grueling narrative is as uncompromising as Nicole Kidman's central performance, which adds extra layers to a challenging film that leaves a lingering impact."[17] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 62 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[18]

Peter Debruge of Variety and Brooke Marine of W both found Kidman "unrecognizable" in the role and Debruge added that "she disappears into an entirely new skin, rearranging her insides to fit the character's tough hide",[19] whereas Marine highlighted Kidman's method acting.[20]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
Golden Globes January 6, 2019 Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Nicole Kidman Nominated [21]
Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society January 9, 2019 Best Actress Nominated [22]
Satellite Awards February 17, 2019 Best Actress in Motion Picture – Drama Nominated [23]
Noir Film Festival December 9, 2018 Special Mention Won [24]
Black Lion Destroyer Nominated
Nevada Film Critics Society December 19, 2018 Best Actress (tied with Toni Collette for Hereditary) Nicole Kidman Won [25]


  1. ^ "Destroyer". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Smallwood, Christine (December 20, 2018). "The Filmmaker Karyn Kusama Explores the Many Dimensions of Women's Rage". The New York Times. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  3. ^ "Feature Films: A Profile of Production" (PDF). FilmLA: 25. March 2020. Retrieved March 4, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Destroyer (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  5. ^ "Nicole Kidman To Star In Karyn Kusama's 'Destroyer'". The Playlist. August 8, 2017. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  6. ^ Hipes, Patrick (October 4, 2017). "Nicole Kidman To Star In Karyn Kusama L.A. Crime Thriller 'Destroyer' With 30WEST Financing". Deadline. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  7. ^ Busch, Anita (November 15, 2017). "Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan Join Nicole Kidman In 'Destroyer'". Deadline. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  8. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (November 28, 2017). "Bradley Whitford, Toby Kebbell, Scoot McNairy Board Nicole Kidman Starring Thriller 'Destroyer'". Deadline. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  9. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (December 4, 2017). "Beau Knapp, Jade Pettyjohn, Toby Huss & More Cast In Karyn Kusama's 'Destroyer'". Deadline. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  10. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (May 14, 2018). "Cannes All-Nighter: Annapurna Wins U.S. Rights To Nicole Kidman Crime-Thriller 'Destroyer'". Deadline. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  11. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (August 30, 2018). "'First Man,' 'Front Runner' and 'Roma' Among 2018 Telluride Film Festival Selections". Variety. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  12. ^ "Telluride Film Festival Program Guide" (PDF). Telluride Film Festival. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Vlessing, Etan (August 8, 2018). "Toronto: Nicole Kidman Starrer 'Destroyer,' Alex Ross Perry's 'Her Smell' Join Festival Lineup". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  14. ^ Hammond, Pete (October 11, 2018). "AFI Fest Adds Gala Screenings 'Green Book', 'Widows', World Premiere Of Netflix's 'Bird Box' With Sandra Bullock And 'The Kominsky Method' TV Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  15. ^ "Destroyer". Variety. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  16. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 30, 2018). "'Aquaman' Sailing To $52M+ 2nd Weekend; $189M+ Cume Pacing Ahead Of 'Doctor Strange' & 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  17. ^ "Destroyer (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  18. ^ "Destroyer reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  19. ^ Debruge, Peter (September 1, 2018). "Telluride Film Review: Nicole Kidman in 'Destroyer'". Variety. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  20. ^ Marine, Brooke (November 28, 2018). "Nicole Kidman Stayed in Character as a Cop the Entire Time She Filmed Destroyer". W. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  21. ^ "2018 Nominees" (PDF). HFPA. November 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  22. ^ "Top Honors at L.A. Online Film Critics Society Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. January 2019.
  23. ^ "2018 Nominees". International Press Academy. November 2018. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  24. ^ "Noir in Festival 2018: il palmarès della ventottesima edizione".
  25. ^ "The Nevada Film Critics Society's 2018 Awards for Achievement in Film". Nevada Film Critics Society. December 2018.

26. ^ Jacob Krueger Podcast Destroyer: How To Use Flashbacks In Your Script

External links[edit]