Directed by Martin Owen.

Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Starring Ruby Rose, Jean Reno, Aksel Hennie.
Action, US, 97 minutes.


Released on Digital Download 18 January and DVD 25 January 2021 from Lionsgate UK.


Former marine Ali returns to America after an ambush leads to tragedy. Finding herself looking for work she reluctantly takes on a doorman at a plush apartment block at her uncle's behest. Unbeknownst to her is the fact that her estranged family resides at the very same apartment complex. What should be a healing reunion however is soon interrupted by the arrival of a gang of armed thieves who have their sights set on a vast fortune that is hidden somewhere within the walls. To protect her family, Ali must draw upon her combat skills once again as she faces off against the ruthless thieves.


THE DOORMAN is a simple film reminiscent of such films as DIE HARD and PANIC ROOM with its tale of a reluctant hero caught in a difficult situation in a limited location. However, Director Ryuhei Kitamura fails to make the most of these basic elements. Compared to previous Kitamura's films such as MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN and NO ONE LIVES, THE DOORMAN is disappointing, lacking the surprising shocks or propulsive energy of those singular entries and a further betrayal of the promise that was shown in his debut VERSUS, recently re-released on Blu-ray. With a script that fails to hide its influences of the films mentioned above as well as a host of other hostage and heist movies, there seems to be zero effort in delivering anything else than your bog-standard b-movie action flick.


As well as its undemanding storyline the film also suffers from a lack of spark in its performances. As the titular doorman, Ruby Rose also delivers a performance lacking any spark or energy, especially when compared to the mute henchwoman's role she made so memorable in JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2. Adding to this roster of overqualified talent under-delivering is Jean Reno as the head of the gang of thieves. He turns up, states his intentions and no more, perhaps be the least threatening and most redundant villain in a film in some time. As his lead henchman Aksel Hennie, so memorable as the sympathetic weakling hero of the Jo Nesbo adaptation HEADHUNTERS, accomplishes so much more portraying a much nastier and more interesting figure, giving the film its biggest spark of life.


As disappointing as it is when compared to its director and main stars previous accomplishments in action cinema THE DOORMAN is watchable enough. Kitamura is professional enough to deliver a product that runs smoothly from scene to scene. One highlight here, where Ali battles against two armed baddies amongst precarious scaffolding situated by a pool of water while electrical cables swing back and forth serves as a reminder of what Kitamura can accomplish. However, more surprise and entertainment can be gained by viewers on a rewatch of his previous films, than even a single watch of this repetitive, uninspiring actioner.


Iain MacLeod.


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