The story of The Doorman is simplicity personified, and the movie is at its best when it embraces that simplicity. This means that, on balance, it’s pretty good – mostly because screenwriters Lior Chefetz, Joe Swanson and Devon Rose offer just enough surrounding context to provide a foothold of sympathy for the characters, while director Ryûhei Kitamura keeps a satisfying focus on the essentials. This plot is no-muss, no-fuss stuff and better for it: a stoic heroine happens to be in an apartment complex where a group of trained mercenaries has entered, taken a few hostages, and set to work on finding a treasure of a sort. There are fistfights, double crosses and secret passageways and hidey-holes.

In other words, there’s just enough to have an enormous amount of fun with the logistics and geography of it all, and right from the start, we have a solid protagonist to rally behind. Ali (Ruby Rose) was once a high-ranking military official, until her botched involvement in a protection detail several years ago intervened. Since then, she’s dealt with crippling posttraumatic stress and its attendant anxieties. Her relationship with her brother Jon (Rupert Evans) has struggled in the interim, but she arrives at his place, shared by his children Max (Julian Feder) and Lily (Kila Lord Cassidy), for an Easter dinner. Unluckily for all involved, so has that group of mercenaries, led by Dubois (Jean Reno).

Initially, their business was with a couple of neighbors of Jon and his family, but when the valuable works of art are clearly not located in their apartment, the mercenaries realize that Jon’s residence holds the answers. Luckily for them, they’ve got an in with Borz (Aksel Hennie), the doorman of the building (and the title, obviously), who will send away the police or firemen who are not already in his pocket if they come calling. It’s an almost airtight plan – always assuming, of course, that there isn’t an extremely capable soldier somewhere else in the building, ready to confront her past. The screenwriters also provide a couple of intelligent kids in Max, who knows Morse code, and Lila, who has computer skills.

This is primarily a vehicle for Rose, who excels more at the feats of physical combat than at what the film asks of her dramatically. That latter point, in fact, will mean nothing to the audience at which the film is aimed. Ali takes down entire squadrons of commandos and, in one moment, police without breaking a sweat, and then there is the running, diving, and leaping tour of the secret compartments of the complex – specifically behind Jon’s bookcase and leading into the outside hallways. It’s enough the crack a smile on even the most cynical moviegoer’s face. This is the stuff of truly enjoyable espionage, reconfigured for characters moving toward each other at speed.

Reno is also having a lot of fun here playing a villain who can only be described as an elegant brute, whose finely tailored suit barely conceals his willingness to coerce some knowledge out of some hapless sucker, and Hennie is genuinely intimidating as a psychopathic hotfoot who could snap at any moment. The art pieces they seek are nothing more than MacGuffins, of course, ultimately irrelevant to the bare amount of plot that has been established. It’s all about the scenes of brutal action, satisfying comeuppances, and conceptual surprises that Kitamura has in store for us. The Doorman is asked to deliver no-frills entertainment. By golly, it delivers in spades.

The Doorman is asked to deliver no-frills entertainment. By golly, it delivers in spades.
70 %
No Muss, No Fuss
  • Nightmare Cinema

    Its creaky connective tissue leaves much to be desired, but there’s enough meat on these b…
  • Honest Thief

    Honest Thief doesn’t have much to add to the unofficial subgenre of Liam Neeson Action Thr…
  • 2 Hearts

    An extraordinarily frustrating romantic drama about the Undying Power of Love. …
  • The Wolf of Snow Hollow

    Cummings flips the switch from terrifying to hilarious – from idiosyncratic to devastating…
  • Martin Eden

    By the time the film finally ends, most viewers will likely wonder why Marcello made the v…
  • Shithouse

    Despite its crappy title, Shithouse is alternatingly charming and frustrating. …
  • Rediscover: The Saragossa Manuscript

    Torturous history coalesces to shape a film that, while never overtly political, communica…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Honest Thief

Honest Thief doesn’t have much to add to the unofficial subgenre of Liam Neeson Action Thr…