Movie Review: Man on a Ledge
Director: Asger Leth
Reviewed: 12 July 2012
Man on a Ledge is exactly what it purports to be: a B-movie plot with an A-level cast with a fun concept that never really goes anywhere, and it doesn't leave much of an impression. But, it is a kinda fun ride.
Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), the titular man, stands on a 21st story ledge on a busy street in New Your City, grinding city traffic and business to a halt. A former cop who stages a daring escape during his father's burial at the cemetery, Cassidy requests a specific police officer, Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), to speak to while standing on the ledge, he makes few other demands, he keeps his cryptic motives to himself. Cassidy and Mercer build a rapport as helicopters swirl, tactical units prepare to descend on ropes from the roof, and a crowd gathers to watch the show.
Meanwhile, nefarious and reptilian real estate developer David Englander (Ed Harris) who put Cassidy in jail through a complicated frame-up involving a diamond watches the proceeding from his building next door to Cassidy's hotel. And, Cassidy's scrappy brother Joey (Jaime Bell) and the brother's fiesty girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) find themselves wrapped up in the twisty-turny plot as well. And, throw in a NYPD officer with just the right amount of cynicism (Ed Burns) as well as a few other cops that maybe can be trusted. Without giving anything away, the man on the ledge is not what he appears to be.
But, the film is really what it appears to be: a fun idea, done with some style and some memorable scenes. Ultimately, this film is a stew of disparate parts with a rather dull performance from Worthington (whose Aussie accent fades in and out), a fine job by Banks, an underused Harris, a winning and flirtatious combination in Bell and Rodriguez (their scenes add some energy and banter), some outlandish plot twists, some cool stunt work, as well as some pretty elaborate break-in procedures and schemes. The film attempts some clumsy social relevance with the crowd on the street and the media coverage which doesn't entirely work. At times, I felt like I was watching an over-budgeted version of the Fox television show Prison Break. At others, I referenced Spike Lee's Manhattan bank robbery hostage thriller Inside Man, a much stronger film, with a much stronger script, with stronger performances and something interesting to say. Man on a Ledge doesn't have anything interesting to say, but it is perfectly harmless, perfectly watchable. And the ledge looks pretty sweet. Apparently, the actors were really up on a ledge with wires and supports hidden or edited out. Pretty fun stuff. But not too much fun.