Nicole Kidman stars as Erin Bell in Karyn Kusama's DESTROYER, an Annapurna Pictures release.

Nicole Kidman stars as Erin Bell in Karyn Kusama's DESTROYER, an Annapurna Pictures release.

Karyn Kusama, Not Nicole Kidman, Is the Real Draw of ‘Destroyer’

Existential action flick ‘Destroyer’ may star Nicole Kidman, but the real talent is Karyn Kusama sitting in the director’s chair.

Annapurna Pictures on Wednesday released the first trailer for Destroyer, a brooding character-study-as-action-movie starring Nicole Kidman. The intense first glimpse at the movie is a portent for the rave reviews that will undoubtedly be heaped upon its star, Nicole Kidman.

To stop there, however, would be to dismiss the veteran filmmaker behind the scenes, Karyn Kusama, a woman who has long since proven her ability to lend something unique to each of her projects.

Erin Bell (Kidman) is an LAPD detective haunted by a years-gone assignment that ended in tragedy. When an unassuming letter comes across Bell’s desk, her demons are stirred up and she is propelled on a quest to hunt down a notorious gang leader (The Angel’s Toby Kebbell). The journey will take Bell through the depths of LA’s underworld as she confronts a piece of her past that has infected every aspect of her modern life.

According to the director herself, “Destroyer aims to uncover all kinds of primal “destroyers” – money, greed, hunger – but will also reveal the insidious qualities of memory, denial and the inexorable march of time itself.”

Bluntly put, folks, this is action movie making at its finest; a deeply-layered hero on a meaningful path with real consequences. Kidman is a phenomenal choice to anchor the film, of course, but it is Karyn Kusama who seems uniquely poised to turn Destroyer into something truly memorable.

Kusama has been bouncing around Hollywood since 2000, when her first feature, Girlfight, turned Michelle Rodriguez into a star. Since that auspicious debut, Kusama has veered gleefully from genre to genre, bringing her eye for deeply-drawn characters and riveting stories to each project. Karyn Kusama turned Charlize Theron into a superhero in the underrated Æon Flux, she injected some attitude into Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer’s Body, and she proved her ability to ratchet up the tension in 2015’s The Invitation. The director’s career is a progressive study in conflicted characters doing fascinating things. If that pattern holds true, then Destroyer just may be Kusama’s masterpiece.

Destroyer barges into theaters on Christmas Day.