Nightstream: No tip for this “Doorman”

The Doorman Ruby Rose in The Doorman (Lionsgate)

Ruby Rose stars in a shameless rip-off of “Die Hard” that offers no thrills, no excitement & no fun.

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When one thinks about the time and work that goes into making a movie, even a bad one, one wonders what could have been if that much time and work had gone into the script. Yes, obviously, writing is very hard, let alone coming up with an original idea and fleshing it out, but imagine directing even an ounce of the energy that goes into staging a fistfight towards fleshing out the characters who are getting into the fistfight. Nevertheless, shortcuts are made, tired plots are rehashed, and you end up with The Doorman, which, save for its capable female lead, comes off as one of countless rip-offs of Die Hard released in the 80s and 90s.

Ryuhei Kitamura directs Ruby Rose as Ali Gorsky, a decorated Marine who leaves active duty after a security detail she’s on is attacked by terrorists. Suffering from PTSD (though this is so underwritten that it could have been edited out entirely), Ali is adrift in her life, until her uncle gets her a job as a doorman at the Carrington, a luxury apartment building in New York City. Considering that most of the building is vacant because it’s under renovation, it would seem to be the wrong time to hire more support staff, but never mind. 

Among the remaining tenants is Jon (Rupert Evans), Ali’s estranged widower brother, and his two kids. Or so we assume, given the way they interact with each other, that they’re estranged siblings, even though it doesn’t make sense that Jon has an English accent and Ali doesn’t. As it turns out, in a contrived bit of drama that is even less developed than Ali’s PTSD, he’s her brother-in-law, and they apparently once had a romantic relationship. We would never know if not for a bit of expository dialogue, because Evans and Rose don’t generate enough heat to toast a Pop Tart. 

Thankfully that plotline is more or less dropped when Jean Reno, accompanied by the usual cackling band of multicultural henchmen who show up in these kinds of movies, enters the building determined to steal priceless art hidden in the walls of Jon’s apartment. Not much of this plan makes sense, such as why, if they expected the building to be empty, the thieves come loaded with enough weapons (including grenades) to invade a small Central American country. These aren’t just any ordinary art thieves, though, they’re cultured, they enjoy classical music and good wine, but also torturing wheelchair-bound old men. They are large, they contain multitudes.

The Doorman, save for its capable female lead, comes off as one of countless rip-offs of Die Hard released in the 80s and 90s.

Ali, with crack timing (and miraculously cured of that PTSD), is there to save the day, with fists flying and guns blazing, but of course you knew that already. You could guess every single thing that happens in The Doorman, right down to the villain hanging around to get in one last allegedly witty line, just long enough for the hero to blow him up. It’s the kind of movie where someone can take a gut shot, and just grimace and get a little sweaty. The Doorman is so deeply committed to not subverting audience expectations that it’s almost impressive.

One could say that writing the lead as a woman who does the saving, rather than waiting around to be saved, is subverting expectations, but it really isn’t, because we’ve already had several movies (not even all of them produced by Marvel) featuring strong female heroes. At best, The Doorman goes out of its way to not sexualize Ali, to the point where her sensible dress pants and draped blouse are almost too frumpy. Not pouring her into skintight leather seems to be quite literally the only original choice anyone associated with the movie made.

Though Ruby Rose could certainly go up against most male action stars when it comes to fitness and fighting style, with an entire movie resting on her shoulders she’s just not that engaging of a presence. She’s hardly the only one sleepwalking through her performance, though: Reno, playing a role that calls for Alan Rickman-style smarm and theatrics, mostly just looks exhausted, while Evans reacts to everything, even his daughter being held at gunpoint, with an expression of mild consternation at best. The Doorman isn’t bad, it’s aggressively mediocre, content to hit the same tired notes as dozens, if not hundreds of movies that came before it. If you’re going to waste the audience’s time, you can at least be original about it.

The Doorman is currently screening at Nightstream, and is available on VOD

The Doorman Trailer:

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