I’ve read some silly things about this movie. I saw it yesterday, enjoyed it, and wondered why some critics were disturbed.
For instance, Peter Rainer in the Christian Science Monitor writes, “This is one of those radical change-your-image performances that tries too hard to defy our expectations.”
Actually, I thought it was one of those performances in which an actor changes her appearance and changes the way she thinks, walks, and talks to fit the character. In other words, acting.
Peter Keough in the Boston Globe writes about the movie’s “confused, convoluted chronology.” Through most of the movie there are two parallel timelines: the present and fifteen years ago when the conflict began. It’s not that hard to follow. Her hair is longer in the past.
The ending surprises the viewer with a series of flashbacks to earlier scenes in the film. We realize these scenes did not mean what we thought they meant. The flashbacks are surprising, but we saw this done at the end of The Usual Suspects (1995).
Other reviewers wrote that Destroyer did nothing that hadn’t already been done in the rogue cop genre, which has been owned by male actors. Robert Horton in HeraldNet writes, “Switching the sex around doesn’t make it fresh.”
Actually, it does. Remember when Jodie Foster played the lead in a remake of Charles Bronson’s revenge thriller, The Brave One (2007)? I was much more enthusiastic about watching her take revenge on those who victimized her than I was watching Charles Bronson, and I wondered why.
I had a similar reaction to Destroyer. Director Karyn Kusama and screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi deserve credit for meeting viewers’ expectations of the genre while expanding it to work with a woman in the lead.
Most critics liked Destroyer It scored 71% on Rotten Tomatoes, but deserves better. Some praised it as a good neo-noir. Sure enough, the worldview is pessimistic, the morality is ambiguous and the tone is grim. Plus, this one has that tragic dimension in which a character with noble ambitions never has a chance to realize them.