Review: Man on a Ledge
CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS
Man on a Ledge is a thriller that has a nice cast, a nice premise, but lacks execution and thrills. For a thriller to be enthralling it needs to have thrills, and this film lacks that as the tension is relieved fairly early when we know that this man has no intent to jump. The other issues is that the trailer gives away some plot points right from the start which takes away some of the tension from the overall story. It is entertaining in spots and does bring up some points as to how screwed up we all are deep down. We put on these masks as these civilized people and yet we slow down on the highway to see a brutal crash or line up behind yellow tape hoping to see a man plummet to his death from a skyscraper. Man on a Ledge uses just that as a plot device to make sure no one hears or focuses on the heist going on across the street, and that's about the movie. The worst of it all, is the fact that the film had some potential and even more so it is Asger Leth's directorial debut and not a solid one at that.
In New York City, the escaped convict Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) checks into the Roosevelt Hotel under a false name and proceeds to his room twenty feet up in the air where he climbs out of the window on to the ledge proclaiming he is a man who is ready to kill himself. Police arrive quickly at the scene and isolate the area while also controlling the ever growing amount of people waiting to see Nick jump. Officer Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns) is sent up to speak with Nick, but Nick wants to talk to negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) who is still grieving over seeing the last jumper she was tasked with fall to his death. Lydia quickly realizes that there is something off about the situation as there are no finger prints in his hotel room for them to identify him and by how calm he is. Nick hides the fact that he is in constant communication with his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Angela (Genesis Rodriguez) who are going to steal from a corrupt businessman, David Englander (Ed Harris), across the street. Nick is simply playing his part as a distraction to keep the police focused on him and play to the crowd to make the traffic even more backed up in such a hectic city.
As time winds down, Lydia begins to feel that she is being played by Nick, especially when they finally get a print from a cigarette he took from her. He reveals to her that he is simply trying to prove his innocence as Englander set him up. Nick was believed to have stolen a diamond from Englander that was worth around fourty million dollars and claims when it happened he was knocked out by two cops and woke up to find himself being set up in a scheme to keep Englander's pockets full. In typical fashion, no one believes a convicted felon of his claims that he is innocent. As he tells her more of his story as to how he feels that he was set up, she begins to believe him and that there is possibly some corrupt cops involved in his incarceration. The cops controlling the situation begin to antsy as the one running the show, Dante Marcus (Titus Welliver), is in fact in Englander's pocket and he orders tactical to put an end to the charade. Lydia believing Nick is an innocent man does whatever is in her power to keep him alive, while Nick attempts to keep all the attention on him so that his brother and Angie can break into Englander's vault. Lydia also is having a hard time trusting anyone within the police force when hearing Nick's claims, even the man that is said to be Nick's best friend and fellow cop Mike Akerman (Anthony Mackie).
Considering the cast you instantly would assume that the film's strong points would be the performances, however, it is one of the weakest points. Sam Worthington doesn't shine or fall flat on his face (no pun intended...but funny regardless) but it seems he doesn't give it his all. The times he shines best is when he is engaged in an action sequence and for him to really become a better actor, he can't just rely on that. He is a likable actor, and very similar to Russel Crowe. Crowe can do the action scenes as intense as anyone I've seen in a long time, but he can also act, thus Worthington should take a page from him. Elizabeth Banks in her role as a somewhat depressed woman doesn't come through. You only see her broken when we are first introduced to her, and even then it just seems like she had a late night with good ol' Jack Daniels. Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez's scenes are some of the better scenes of the movie as the two have a decent chemistry between one another and their scenes involve plenty of thrills. Ed Harris can play a good villain, and in his performance as Englander he doesn't come off too menacing. Asger Leth pulls off some impressive shots between Elizabeth Banks and Sam Worthington and does a good job of capturing the beautiful landscapes that New York provides but struggles in the pacing of the film. All in all, it is a moderately entertaining film but is a little too long and suffers from some average performances given by talented actors.