In 1988 John McClane infiltrated the Nakatomi Plaza in a daring mission to thwart a European criminal mastermind and save his wife in the process. Skip three decades later and we have Ali (Batwoman’s Ruby Rose), a highly trained former soldier, who lands a temporary job as a doorman at a New York apartment building the same day a European criminal (Leon’s Jean Reno) stages a heist in the tenth-floor apartment her family happen to be living in.
This is The Doorman, a film that shares much of the same DNA as Die Hard but drastically fails in capturing what made it work so well: a thrilling plot and characters its audience could care about.
Rather than being on a capable detective estranged from their spouse, Ali is a capable soldier estranged from her brother-in-law and his kids after of her sister’s death. All this information is delivered within the first half of the film, but in a way that feels unnatural. Every line at this point is heavy-handed exposition whose purpose is to offer convenient explanations for later point points. Whether it’s one character casually explaining an underground tunnel system or another mentioning that the building is full of secret passages, the script leaves no room for surprises in where it’s going to go and consequently turns its characters into plot devices instead of people.
It’s only when Reno and his goons literally enter the building that the action gets underway, but these sequences are given just as little consideration as the characters. While the action itself is fast and fluid (Rose’s action background shines through), it has no weight behind it and the camera is simply unable to keep up with what’s happening onscreen. This becomes a bigger problem during the final showdown, where it’s too dark to follow anything coherently – major shame given that the cinematography used is in fact remarkably stylish. If the direction the confidence to hang on these shots longer, the action could have been enjoyable.
The Doorman desperately wants to recapture the spirit of Die Hard but demonstrates a complete lack of understanding in what made that film – and the action genre overall – work.
The Doorman is released digitally on demand on 18th January 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Doorman here: