The Australian model and TV presenter turned actress Ruby Rose has transformed herself into as credible a two-fisted big screen badass as any willowy, featherweight model could ever hope to be.
TV’s “Batwoman” can handle fight choreography, with a little help from a creative cinematographer and editor. And she’s impressive in the brawls as “The Doorman,” her B-movie “Die Hard” knockoff that pits her against a New York apartment complex full of terrorists.
It’s a stick-to-the-formula thriller about a Marine embassy guard with a Big Failure in her past forced to fend off a bunch of armed thugs holding her late sister’s family hostage over Easter weekend in an apartment building undergoing renovations.
The chief villain is played by the French actor/gourmand Jean Reno, and he and his gang are out for something somebody hid in the walls of The Carrington long ago.
So we’ve got the wild card, the female “doorman” with “very particular skills,” as Liam Neeson always puts it, vs. the chatty, urbane Frenchman who is here to sniff at being offered “Italian” wine, “I prefer Bordeaux!”
Reno’s “Victor Dubois” purrs words of murderous comfort to his hostages, dad Jon (Rupert Evans) and his son and daughter.
“Remember, we are civilized.”
He discusses Goya, and has an eye for Caravaggio. And every so often, he gets on the walkie talkie with our heroine for a little trash talk. Because when “just a woman” has picked off one minion after another, she’s going to have their walkie talkies to make threats, and hear them.
“Zees EEeenternet ees a MARvelous invention, n’est–ce pas?”
The script is a clumsy patchwork of gimmicks — history professor Jon playing mind-games with his captors — obvious bits of foreshadowing and Wikipedia-shallow discourses on Rachmaninoff and Goya, all designed to fill the minutes between Ruby Rose throw-downs.
Director Ryûhei Kitamura (“Midnight Meat Train”) and his team ensure that those fights are passable. The supporting performances are pro forma for the bad guys, cloying for the kids.
But Rose doesn’t suggest panic, fury or urgency in any moment where she’s not fighting. The character’s in-the-moment reactions are flat, dull. The intensity she brought to “John Wick” isn’t here. She slow-walks through the part, waiting for the odd action film one-liner.
It takes a real professional to commit to material that adds up to little and try to make it better by force of personality. Fight choreography aside, she doesn’t bring her A-game to this B-movie.
MPAA rating: R for violence throughout, language and brief teen drug use
Cast: Ruby Rose, Jean Reno, Rupert Evans, Louis Mandylor, Aksel Hennie
Credits: Directed by Ryûhei Kitamura, script by Lior Chefetz and Joe Swanson. A Lionsgate release.
Running time: 1:37