The ‘down-on-his-luck cop trying for redemption’ genre gets a gender change in “Destroyer.” Nicole Kidman goes grimy and gritty in this dark character study about an LAPD detective with a lot of personal baggage whose past comes back to haunt her as she tries to unravel a murder mystery. Kidman goes all out in a performance that you’ll either find haunting or overblown. Count me somewhere in the middle. “Destroyer” tries a bit too hard to be grubby.
It’s been 100 years since WWI, but the new documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” gives the events of the war an immediacy we haven’t seen before. Filmmaker Peter Jackson of “Lord of the Rings” fame has taken old, shaky black-and-white war footage stored at the Imperial War Museum in Great Britain and given it a high-tech update. This restored film has been speed-rectified, colorized and given impressive sound enhancement. Jackson also employs skillful editing to tell the story of British ground troops who served in the hellish trenches on the Western Front, narrated by the actual survivors whose stories were recorded by the BBC in the 1960s. The resulting film is an emotionally involving experience that will probably be used by history classes for years to come. War is Hell, and “They Shall Not Grow Old” provides vivid proof.
Also opening this week, “Miss Bala” is an action thriller from Catherine Hardwick, best known for “Twilight.” Gina Rodriguez plays a makeup artist who tries to turn the tables on a drug cartel after they kidnap her best friend in Tijuana. “The World Before Your Feet” is a documentary about a man who, over a 6-year period, walked all 8,000 miles of roads in New York City. “Everybody Knows” is a kidnapping drama from Spain starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.