Man on a Ledge (2012) / Thriller-Drama
MPAA rated PG-13 for violence and language
Running time: 102 min.
Cast: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Ed Burns, Genesis Rodriguez, Titus Welliver, Kyra Sedgwick, William Sadler
Director: Asger Leth
Screenplay: Pablo F. Fenjves
Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator Salvation) stars as Nick Cassidy, a former cop turned convict with no chance of parole who ends up escaping his police captors only to emerge on the ledge of the 21st story of the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Nick insists that he'll jump if he can't talk to the police force's recently disgraced expert negotiator for jumpers, Lynda Mercer (Banks, Role Models), and while she tries to ascertain who he is and why he is out to take his own life, he's playing for time in order to try to clear his innocence -- or is he? Nick electronically is communicating with his younger brother Joey (Bell, The Eagle) who, along with his brother's feisty girlfriend Angie (Rodriguez, "Entourage"), busts into a building across the street in order to try to get the near priceless diamond that Nick took the rap for from the man who set him up, a wealthy and powerful businessman named David Englander (Harris, Appaloosa).
Leaden with implausibility (You'll wonder throughout how Nick prove his innocence by subversively trying to steal the diamond from the man who framed him), its overreaching script by Pablo Fenjves (The Affair, The Devil's Child), Man on a Ledge traverses through clichés and hard-to-swallow machinations in order to keep the audience on its toes. Unfortunately, it's delivered in a very routine, quite tepid way, going through familiar motions without much originality or distinction. Worthington, who has garnered a following as an action hero, lacks the same crackle playing a normal guy done wrong, and his difficulty shedding his Aussie accent makes his dialogue come off as odd during many key scenes.
The rest of the cast is either wasted or hammy, with ridiculous subplots and contrived ways for white hats and black hats to find each other for routing shootouts and fisticuffs. Dumb subplots mar the experience, particularly through the showcase of a vulture-like media, represented by an amoral reporter portrayed by Kyra Sedgwick (The Game Plan, Justice League: The New Frontier), that add nothing to the themes or tension. Joey and Angie are grating at best as the semi-comic bickering couple who just so happen to excel at cracking the most sophisticated of security systems as if they were the very criminals Nick is falsely accused of being.
The film looks fine from a technical standpoint, and things move along without too much muss or fuss, but likeable actors and competency in the lensing fall far short of turning this plot into something worth following for more than a few snickers at its expense. There have been films more implausible to be sure, but the successful ones managed to move briskly, feature more interesting characters, or crackled with smarter dialogue that Man on a Ledge ever does even for one scene. For the most part, outside of the sensationalized gimmick of a man on a ledge calling the shots, most of the plotline involves spinning the wheels until the final showdown, but by then, it's too little, too late. You know where it's going because you've been here before. If you're not frantically wondering whether Nick is going to jump or not, you'll likely be on the edge yourself, wondering whether to keep watching or give up altogether.
©2012 Vince Leo