The Doorman (2020) Review

Ex-solider Ali (Batwoman’s Ruby Rose) is down on her luck and suffering from PTSD brought on by the loss of innocent lives she was charged to protect during her stint guarding an ambassador. Taking a job as a doorman at a swanky New York apartment building that is currently being renovated, she ends up running into her widowed brother-in law and is happily forced to reconnect with his kids.

With an invite to Easter dinner Ali attempts to heal old wounds she helped create however she is unaware that her co-worker Borz (Aksel Hennie from The Martian) is in league with art thief Victor Dubois (Lean and Ronin star Jean Reno) and the pair have planed a heist in the almost empty building.

As the violent crew maim and slaughter the remaining occupants of the high rise, Ali must strike back using her wits and skills in a desperate attempt to protect her estranged family and stop the rouge robbers from achieving their goal.

From the synopsis above it might seem that The Doorman was a straight forward, if misnamed, action thriller however behind the scenes it is in fact a subversive strike against Hollywood’s sexist and racist traditions and hopefully a step forward in casting choices.

Directed by the amazing Ryûhei Kitamura whose previous work in Japan produced the brilliant and bloody Versus and the insane monster madness of Godzilla: Final Wars, The Doorman sees Kitamura firmly establish himself in American genre cinema.

Although far from the creativity and carnage of his horror movies Midnight Meat Train and No One Lives, The Doorman contains flashes of Kitamura’s sick, slick and stylised flair predominantly in the electrifying death of one villain, the tense and innovative morse code scene and the ballistic final battle.

On paper the character of Ali in The Doorman could have literally been adapted to anyone. The name is not only gender neutral but could also sit comfortably as the identity of various nationalities and racial backgrounds meaning with a few tiny tweaks of the nonspecific backstory we could see anyone from Bruce Willis to Wesley Snipes to John Cena in the role.

With its so so story and script and derivative Die Hard light set up the interesting and refreshing element of The Doorman is the casting of Ruby Rose in the lead. Far from the usual actor we normally see fronting these generic thrillers she elevates the movie with her talent and ability bringing much more to the character than the tried and tested male staples of this genre such as Travolta or Cage could muster.

Cutting her teeth in a series of sidekick and henchman roles in big budget action movies from xXx: Return of Xander Cage to The Meg to John Wick: Chapter 2, Ruby Rose gained popularity and fame for her immediately identifiable look and fighting skills which made her stand out in the bullet covered crowd.

Having come out as a lesbian and embracing androgyny and different gender expressions throughout her career as a model and actress, Rose has often been the centre of public and media obsession over her gender identity and physical appearance in both positive and negative ways. Taking the role of a lesbian Batwoman in 2019 she caused outrage in a bigoted and blinkered section of society yet through the series she proved that her take was not only a valid interpretation of the popular comic character but also an important one in bringing exposure to LGBTQ+ issues.

Engaging and entertaining Rose more than handles taking the lead in The Doorman. Although she is seemingly playing it straight as Ali, she is still dressed and styled in her trademark way. Like other male stars in the genre she does not compromise her look for the character proving she is a major part of the draw for the audience which considering the usually testosterone filled playing field, is a great step forward.

Pounding faces, breaking bones and blasting bad guys Rose revels in the role and with Kitamura’s eye for action the fight scenes really do stand out. The Doorman is not a great film by any measure however if it means that both talents get to keep making mainstream movies whatever the quality then I for one am all for it.

Movie Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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