Man on a Ledge is in its own way a cinematic rope-a-dope. It begins as a “jumper” film and changes into a generic heist film. Sam Worthington as a former NYPD officer now escape convict directs eyes skyward as he stands on a ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel. As all eyes are on him, his two associates are a block away trying to steal a $40 million diamond.
The setup involves Nick Cassidy (Worthington) being wrongfully accused as an accessory to a diamond theft. Having served two years of a twenty-five year stretch in prison, he seizes the opportunity to escape while using his day pass to attend his father’s funeral. But rather than hightail it to a nearby state or to Canada, he books a room at the Roosevelt Hotel and orders some lunch and champagne before writing a suicide note. Then to further the curiosity of what he is doing here, Nick wipes his fingerprints off the silverware and the other objects he touched in room. When he specifically requests officer Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) to be the negotiator it becomes apparent that Nick has an ulterior motive beyond that of making his body artwork on the pavement twenty stories below. That motive happens to be being the decoy so his little brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), can steal the diamond – for real this time – from the man who set him up, David Englander (Ed Harris).
Although the man on the ledge angle is an intriguing distraction to an ongoing heist, the film, unfortunately, dissolves into something all too familiar that becomes more unbelievable with each action and added plot hole. As the film progresses it’s easy for the viewer to get caught up in the thrills. It’s only when you slow things down that you begin to pick it apart and see that the thrills are cheap and the payoff isn’t without consequence.
Danish director Asger Leth makes his American debut with Ledge and shows a deft touch when it comes to pacing, knowing when to slow it down and when to pick it up. Sadly, the screenplay lacks the same deftness. Added plot points point to predictability, and by the time we reach the finale all logic is thrown out the window if not the ledge. If you can accept this then Man on a Ledge might fulfill a ticket purchase. However, coming from a writer who has an affinity for films that involve any combination of heists, con artists and hustlers, Man on a Ledge is a lesser entry in the genre canon.
Not helping the situation is Sam Worthington, who either has one of the best agents in Hollywood or has a lot of blackmail material that allows him starring vehicles. His character has little in the way of charisma and his accent is laughingly atrocious, going to Aussie when he yells or gets really aggravated. Jamie Bell, on the other hand, as the brother is better in his role despite not doing anything flashy. He at least has eye candy Genesis Rodriguez to help him pull off the heist. She overacts most of the time, but she is afforded one unwarranted moment on camera that will get a reaction from male viewers.
Elizabeth Banks as the negotiator appears to be the only person in the cast that seems to have some emotional growth that comes from the situation. The primary action is Nick’s revenge, but her small back story of living with the jumping death of another NYPD officer sees her with a healthy disposition when everything is done.
As for the other supporting players, Anthony Mackie is wasted in his limited role as Worthington’s former partner. Writer-director-actor Edward Burns shows up for a coffee and takes a seat on the couch. No, really, that’s pretty much his performance. He says a few lines of dialogue and tries to maintain some imposing presence as a cop on the scene at the hotel, but eventually regresses to drink some lukewarm coffee and sit in the background. Ed Harris, as the villain, is your typical money hungry evildoer who most of the 99% will come to despise. He has some fun scene-chewing moments but appears distracting with his miracle brow that seems Botox enhanced in one shot and not in another. Then there’s Kyra Sedgwick who has proven herself a worthy interrogator on TV’s The Closer here playing against type as a TV reporter. Her performance is mere window-dressing as she gauges public sentiment to the spectacle above.
Man on a Ledge tries to be too smart for its own good and ultimately backfires at being a convincing heist. The plot twists are textbook or don’t make much sense. In a month where studios tend to throw material at the screen and see what sticks, it’s an average release that gets worse with each passing scene. Best to skip it as it will probably become a regular filler on TNT in the future.
Director: Asger Leth Notable Cast: Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Elizabeth Banks, Edward Burns, Anthony Mackie, Kyra Sedgwick, Genesis Rodriguez Writer(s): Pablo F. Fenjves
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!