In Brief: A middle of the pack thriller featuring Ruby Rose and Jean Reno. They make the film worth catching.
Click here to watch a 15-minute interview I did with Jean Reno.
Action flicks like The Doorman have predictable outcomes. The hero or heroine win out in the end and the bad guys die in the order of their importance to the story. An actor getting cast in the fifth or sixth spot a movie usually suffers the fate of those security people that used to accompany Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk to the surface of this planet or that.
They died quickly and often in the opening sequence aired just before the overly long, “Space… the final frontier” intro.
When it comes to a full length feature film, death doesn’t come quite that quickly. Often that character can last up to 20-minutes and sometimes even a bit more. However, last, they do not.
All of this gives you the basic formula for this kind of action flick. What it doesn’t define is how the plot goes. And how the plot goes and how much we like the story depends on how it flows from A to B to C and on down the alphabet to Z.
The Doorman casts Ruby Rose as Ali. She’s special forces military. Failure on a mission has her bagging the military career for a deep, ugly depression. A family member talks her into applying for a doorman job at a swank hotel that is undergoing a renovation. An old couple and a widower with two kids are the establishment’s only tenants.
She takes a job.
Never mind that two couples and a few workmen really don’t need a doorman much less two of them. The main doorman just happens to be a criminal and a flunky working for Jean Reno’s Victor Dubois. He’s after some priceless art that he and the old guy stole eons ago. Turns out the art treasures are hidden in — yep, you guessed it — the apartment of the widower and his kids.
It also just “happens” that Ali is the sister of the late wife and she and the hubby have a stressed relationship because of events that happened in the past. When Dubois’ goons start killing people the elite military part of her switches on and Ali leaps into predictable action with predictable action ups and downs which leads us back to A to B to C.
At this point our trip through the alphabet trip starts with the movie’s two known actors. Of course, the film’s one-two punch is Rose and Reno. He is one of my all-time favorite character actors. I love him a lot more as a good guy than a villain. Reno (The Professional, Alex Cross, The Da Vinci Code, Mission: Impossible) does Dubois very low key. He’s a nice man who smiles a lot and is very polite. Dubois is the perfect gentleman who won’t soil his own hands with someone’s blood but doesn’t hesitate to have the goons take care of business in the deadliest of ways.
It’s not the best I’ve ever seen Reno but it’s a good part for him.
Rose is the complete opposite of Reno. His battery is on recharge. She’s supercharged. You totally believe Rose can more than handle Dubois’ baddies and then some. Her combat scenes are where director Ryuhei Kitamura shines and where his movie really works. Rose (John Wick: Chapter 2, TV’s Batwoman) also manages to make her character as vulnerable as she is tough.
It’s a nice mix.
Kitamura, who you probably haven’t heard of, and the film’s writers you also probably don’t know, manage to put The Doorman in the middle of the pack when it comes to the A to B to C thing. They have created characters who are as cliche as they come. The henchmen are laughably predictable. The kids are even worse.
The good news is Kitamura is not bad as an action director and even better news is that the movie isn’t horrible. However, considering how good this genre can be, it’s nothing to write home about.
So why does it work? Two reasons. Rose and Reno but especially Rose.
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Stars: Ruby Rose, Jean Reno, Rupert Evans, Julian Feder, Kila Lord Cassidy
Rated R for mature themes, violence and language. The Doorman works in places and in other places not so much. However, the performances of Ruby Rose and Jean Reno make it good enough to watch.
The Doorman can be found on view on demand (VOD).
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.