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Movie Review: Man on a Ledge - Understanding Anxiety on New Heights

Updated on March 3, 2014
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At the Height of Anxiety and Entertainment

Ex-Cop and convicted felon Nick Cassidy (played by Sam Worthington) finds himself in a perilous position in more ways than one. Faced with the death of his father and his continued insistence that he is innocent of the charge he was convicted of - the theft of a multi-million dollar, priceless huge diamond - Nick is forced to make a choice that could mean the difference between life and death. He escapes from police custody while attending his father's funeral and instantly careens into a journey that he cannot escape.


With the help of his younger brother and brother's girlfriend, he intends to actually steal the jewel he was already convicted of stealing. To distract the attention from the main source of action, he crawls out onto the ledge of the Roosevelt hotel in New York City - across the street from where the jewel remains in hiding - in the clutches of corporate real-estate mogul David Englander. He requests the assistance of hostage-negotiator Lydia Mercer and undergoes a psychologically gripping and anxiety provoking journey while standing on a ledge barely two feet wide. The traffic of New York city crawls to a standstill as crowds gather to watch the drama unfold and possibly witness someone hurling hundreds of stories to their death.


The mood of the crowd shifts as the storyline deepens. At first, they encourage nick to jump, egging him on and taunting him as a would-be jumper. As he is eventually identified as an escaped convict and former cop protesting his innocence, they gradually become increasingly supportive - and eventually help put his daring plan into motion.

Dirty cops, the stereotypical corporate tycoon with an ulterior motive and the bond of family themes are carried throughout the entire film from start to finish. With more twists and turns than a typical subway labyrinth, this movie leaves you guessing from the moment the opening images splash over the screen until the closing credits. You don't know who to trust and who can potentially turn on you at a moment's notice. Nail biting suspense is heightened at key moments and you find yourself rooting for the underdog throughout. In the end, you know the outcome and the buildup and your loyalty firmly rests on the Cassidy family and you want to see them succeed.

Guilt and innocence are thoroughly examined as well as loyalty and betrayal. Overall the movie combines startling and realistic images shot on location on the ledge of New York City's Roosevelt hotel - not in a greenroom with CGI special effects.

Official HD Trailer

Behind the Scenes:

This film will keep you guessing at every moment. The portrayal and character development are perfect and unprecedented. Elizabeth Banks and Sam Worthington take their careers to new heights and deliver a remarkably believable performance. As the film opens, the audience is left in the dark. With every passing moment, however, they are gradually let into the action as they mirror the role that Elizabeth plays - a police negotiator who is going in essentially blind and forced to make a spur of the moment decision on who to trust.

Supporting roles played by Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez are equally moving as you go into the mind of a skilled and accomplished thief who has had nothing but time to plan the perfect hijack - one that will actually provide justice in the end.

The movie originally was going to take place mostly on set utilizing a green screen. As the idea progressed, however, the director (Asger Leth) wanted to make the stunning visuals even more believable. He shipped his cameramen and crew to the ledge of the Roosevelt hotel. As lead actor Sam Worthington actually suffers from a fear of heights, the fear portrayed on his face throughout the film adds additional believable elements. It's easy to put yourself in his shaky shoes throughout the entire scope of the film, and you're rooting him and his crazy antics on from start to finish.

This film is not easy to predict. For someone who enjoys a good twist but is rarely given one, I am a hard critic to please. This film caught me off-guard from the very beginning, and I easily became caught up in the story, the character development and the overall sentiment expressed by the ever-day passers by of New York city - and the power of mob mentality in action.

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Analysis

As a film enthusiast who loves being kept guessing, this movie definitely ranked at the top of my expectations. I wasn't sure what to expect going into it, but I was certainly pleasantly surprised. The characters were well developed and enhanced, the interpersonal connections between them were moving and heartfelt, and it was easy to lose myself in the film experience and just enjoy the movie the way that it was meant to be. The plot developed slowly enough that it wasn't predictable and campy, yet fast enough that I didn't get bored waiting for the climax. I enjoyed the way that the general public were portrayed, as they continued to evolve with the characters and interact with them abstractly. The film was the perfect melding of cop drama, heist flick and interpersonal dramatic elements, and I enjoyed it immensely.

I look forward to seeing the film again, once I have had a significant amount of time away from it in order to gain a fresh perspective. While this isn't one of those films that I can watch on endless loop all of the time, it is a film that I would enjoy seeing again from to time. I enjoy seeing what new jumps out at me the second or third time around, and I enjoy a fresh perspective that will allow me to see it differently with every new viewing. While I was never a person who was significantly afraid of heights, I don't imagine that I'll be stepping out on a building ledge any time soon. The visual effects complimented the film in its entirety, and it definitely brought a dramatic and realistic affect to the overall movie - yet was not overdone.

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