It’s action movie tradition that every action hero gets their very own clone of Die Hard.
Being a Die Hard clone is a term of affection. Whether it’s early or late in an action hero’s career, there’s a right of passage when an action hero stars in a Die Hard clone. Wesley Snipes had Passenger 57, Jean-Claude Van Damme had Sudden Death, Gerard Butler had Olympus had Fallen, Dolph Lundgren had Command Performance, there are tons of examples ranging from the 90’s to today. These types of action movies are usually fun and Ruby Rose lucked out with her Die Hard clone being directed by the astounding Ryuhei Kitamura. Kitamura’s early 2000’s action films like Versus, Aragami, and Azumi are legendary for their unique fight choreography and cinematography. While he’s probably more well-known for Godzilla: Final Wars and Midnight Meat Train, fun films in their own right, his action films are where his stylistic flair truly shines. So, when I heard when heard Kitamura’s next action movie starred Ruby Rose, who impressed me a lot in John Wick Chapter 2, I was excited. I was not prepared for the disappointment I was about to face.
The premise for this film is, “Die Hard in an apartment building.” Ruby Rose plays a doorman in an apartment building being invaded by art thieves trying to steal a painting lost in WWII, lead by Jean Reno. The story is bare bones but I can excuse that, what’s important for this type of movie are the performances and fight choreography, and both are severely lacking. The production of the film as a whole looks cheap, with generic lighting and lackluster special effects. The bits that Kitamura gets to play around with the camera are few-and-far between, acting as the only real source life of the film. The film just looks and feels drab, with only a few moments of action to break up the monotony.
The performances all around were distressingly wooden. Ruby Rose felt like a non-presence whenever she needed to exert real emotion. The charisma she showed in John Wick Chapter 2 was lost, with little charm or personality. Her fights were good, she came off strong and as a credible action hero, but she just didn’t have a strong performance to back it up. Plus the quick and close editing didn’t showcase the choreography well. She probably needs the right director to draw the performance out of her. Jean Reno as the head of the thieves also gives an unexpectedly underwhelming performance. I can’t say any of the performances in the film stand out, ranging from average to terrible.
This was frankly a disappointing sit. I know the director can do better than this. The Doorman felt like a film Kitamura had little passion in, nor had any strong interest in building on. I’ve seen better from him, and it’s disappointing that even with this generic script he couldn’t deliver at least some impressive action. If you want to check out better Kitamura movies, watch the ones I listed. Otherwise, you can skip this one.
The Doorman is currently playing is currently playing as part of the Nightstream Fest and will be available until October 15th