Lately I’ve been watching a bunch of movies that don’t make sense to me. My practice is to only review movies I don’t already have, so everything is either borrowed from a friend or else streaming on Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.
Which brings us to this one. It’s Destroyer from 2018 on Hulu. Details are from Wikipedia, which lists the cast.
- Nicole Kidman as Erin Bell
- Sebastian Stan as Chris
- Toby Kebbell as Silas Howe
- Tatiana Maslany as Petra
- Bradley Whitford as Dennis DiFranco
- Jade Pettyjohn as Shelby Bell
- Scoot McNairy as Ethan
- Toby Huss as Gil Lawson
What makes this difficulty to follow, for the uninitiated, is the convoluted timeline. The movie begins with the final scene (above) and winds its way back and forth over the 16-year period of the story. Above we see LAPD Detective Erin Bell, sitting in her car, apparently zoned out, sun streaming in. She gets out and examines a crime scene, where other detectives tell her they already have the situation in hand, and she should go get some rest. She tells them she already knows who did the murder, and we will later learn why she is so sure.
Bell is one tough cookie, and we are going to see her go one-on-one with some mean dudes. But first we have to set the scene of the original crime somewhere in the Palm Springs area. Those who have ever driven back to Texas from Los Angeles along I-10 will recognize the wind farm.
Anyhow, Bell and her FBI collaborator named Chris years ago embedded themselves with a dangerous bank gang. We see them passing themselves off as lovers, which they eventually become, Bell becoming pregnant. We see the nihilistic nature of the gangsters, here one playing Russian roulette with three empty chambers.
Back in the present time we see Bell with whom we think is the father of her teenage daughter, and she is discussing problems with their teenage daughter. The girl is hanging with a really bad character, and Bell needs help in unhooking her.
At the original shooting scene the cops picked up some stained bills from a robbery the gang committed those years ago. Bell starts on a hunt for the gang members. While tracking a woman she recognizes from the gang, she observes a convergence at a Los Angeles bank and calls in a robbery in progress. Backed up by uniform cops, she goes in with an assault rifle and makes waste of some of the perps.
The time shifts back to the original robbery. Bell convinced Chris they should let the crime go forward so they could scoop up their share of the loot. They were supposed to stop the robbery, but they concocted a story about being unable to get the word out, and the gang suited up and went in.
When the leader came out of the bank with a bag of cash, a dye packet went off, and he went back into the bank to murder the clerk responsible.
When Chris went in to stop the murder, the gang leader got off the first shot, leaving Chris dying on the floor.
Then he executed the clerk and shot Chris again on his way out of the bank.
Bell was driving one of the getaway vans, and she drove away with a bag of the money and one of the gang. The gang member suspected she was a cop and threatened her. She crashed the van and stashed her bag of the loot in a trash bin.
Come present time, and she needs some of the money to buy off the punk who is dragging her daughter down. She goes to a storage rental.
But most of the cash is stained. She can only retrieve about $11,000. That’s all the punk will get.
By now the end is coming, and Bell is dying from her recent violent encounters. She sits in her car and considers how she has so screwed things up. Symbolically, a coyote trots across the road.
The final shot is some kids doing skate board tricks under the bridge where she is parked and dying.
And that’s all I’m going to tell about the movie, except for this character. Bell is at the home of Dennis DiFranco, and she is strong-arming him into giving up information. In the course of this his bodyguard comes in and punchers her out. Then she goes to the bathroom to recover, and when she comes out she cold-cocks the guard and fixes DiFranco’s clock. And all the while I’m thinking, “That guy acts just like Josh Lyman from seven seasons of The West Wing.
Yes, 20 years can make a big difference in outer appearance but cannot disguise that signature brashness and self importance.
If you are like me you wonder how the bank out in the sticks came to have so much cash. You also see Bell stash the bag of cash in a dumpster next to the crashed van. How come the cops never looked into the dumpster and found the cash? How did Bell get the cash from the dumpster and into the storage rental? Comments, please.