The Doorman (2020)


Director: Ryûhei Kitamura
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Certification: 15
Starring: Ruby Rose, Jean Reno, Aksel Hennie, Rupert Evans, Julian Feder, Kíla Lord Cassidy, Louis Mandylor, Dan Southworth, Hideaki Itô, David Sakurai, Philip Whitchurch


Stop me if this sounds familiar. A terrorist group infiltrate a building, ready to enact their villainous plans by any means necessary, but a wild card who wasn't supposed to be there interrupts the hostile takeover. Among its many achievements, Die Hard has been a great source of inspiration for action cinema. On a scale charting the films it inspired, The Doorman would be placed on the more favourable side, leaning towards Dredd rather than lesser knock-offs like A Good Day To Die Hard.

Following an assignment gone wrong, traumatized ex-Marine Ali (Ruby Rose) takes a job as the doorman in a luxury New York City high-rise where her estranged family live. However, she’s soon called back into action in order to outsmart and battle a group of art thieves and their ruthless leader (Jean Reno) while struggling to protect her loved ones.

In the opening moments, we see Ali (Ruby Rose) in her field, providing security detail for an important figure, before the assignment takes a tragic turn. As she returns home, unsure what to do, it's evident the failure weighs heavily on our lead. She left suffering from PTSD, something the camerawork and editing does well to convey, capturing her struggles to hold it all together. That isn't all there is to Ali, as we see the warm person she is, risking life and limb to rescue her niece's car, and Ruby Rose is electric in the role. She captures Ali's difficulty in opening up, having closed herself off and become estranged from her family for so long, ever since the passing of her sister.

It hasn't been any easier for the family, each struggling to cope with their loss. Max has trauma over his mother's death, a point he bonds with his Aunt Ali over, and comes to understand the type of man he should be. His sister, Lily, endeavours to recreate a Thanksgiving meal their mother used to make, and takes the smallest issue rather hard. As for their father, Jon, he loses himself in his work, and finds the re-emergence of Ali awakening past feelings. Measures are taken to ensure nobody feels just like an extra body to hold hostage, which the performances help to convey. When danger arrives, Max finds a useful outlet for his Morse code knowledge, while Lily manages to make use of her technological knowledge. Meanwhile, Jon is rather capable in his own right, utilising underhanded tactics in the hope of changing his families situation.

Running the operation is Victor Dubois, an erudite man captured well by Jean Reno. He has an affinity for art, and while he has big plans, doesn't intend on getting his hands dirty. He leaves that to his henchmen, an assortment of bland bodies whose double-crossing revelations aren't surprising, and don't feel well-defined. The exception is Borz, the man in charge of the high-rise building. Aksel Hennie does a good job portraying his intimidating nature, which is at odds with how much he messes up. There's a sense of how ineffectual he is, which is met by a regular berating from Dubois, but Borz comes into his own in due course.

When it comes to fast-paced thrills, director Ryûhei Kitamura delivers with tremendous effect, as the action scenes make for a fast-paced affair that'll get your blood pumping. Early on, the history of the building and its secret passages are well utilised for the cat and mouse game which occurs, and one wishes this element could've been used a bit more, to add a degree of inventiveness to the proceedings. As it is, screenwriters Lior Chefetz and Joe Swanson have delivered a simple tale that delivers what you'd expect, and does so in very entertaining ways.

The Doorman is available on Digital Download from 18th January, and DVD from 25th January, courtesy of Lionsgate UK

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