People who enjoy a popcorn thriller that doesn’t offer much thought will be suitably satisfied with Man on a Ledge. Otherwise, this is one that could definitely stand to fall in the rental category.
Man on a Ledge has a title that pretty much explains its central premise: escaped convict Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) re-surfaces in an expensive Manhattan hotel, and suddenly steps out onto the ledge outside his window. At first it seems that Nick is intent on ending his life, but a series of curious decisions (as well as an unusually composed demeanor for a potential jumper) lead disgraced police negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) to discern that this mysterious jumper is actually a part of something much bigger.
That “something” involves Nick’s former life as a prominent NYPD cop who was convicted of stealing from ruthless businessman Deavid Englander (Ed Harris), and paid the price with a long prison sentence. With the help of his brother Joey (Jaime Bell) and Joey’s girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), Nick tries to get justice for the supposed wrong done to him. But with a target on his head and the whole city watching, how does one desperate man find redemption?
Man on a Ledge is one of those B-movie single-setting thrillers that is so riddled with holes and logical inconsistencies that the pulling of any one plot thread will quickly unravel the whole show. Luckily, director Asger Leth keeps each scene in the film loaded with enough action and movement that it manages to hold the viewer’s interest – at least until it becomes apparent that script writer Pablo F. Fenjves doesn’t have that many tricks up his sleeve.
Every plot point in Man on a Ledge is pretty cliched and foreseeable, and the film ends up getting by on the inertia of tension and suspense. That is to say: you’ll probably see what’s coming, but watching it play out is still somewhat enjoyable. As events unfold, the implausibility of the entire situation only increases, and by the time that Nick Cassidy’s fate is decided, the story has pretty much gone off the rails.
Man on a Ledge is oddly miscast for a film of its stature – and by that I mean a lineup of solid performers working with some pretty undeserving material. Sam Worthington is still not the best leading man, and that’s not entirely a matter of acting. His hairdo in the film certainly doesn’t help invite the eye. Elizabeth Banks, conversely, is a likable screen presence, and brings a bit of sharp levity to her part – though her “dramatic” backstory plays out as somewhat ridiculous.
Actors like Kyra Sedgwock, Anthony Mackie, William Sadler and Ed Burns are wasted in their bit roles – with Burns being handed the especially strange task of playing a cop who stands around indifferent to all the things that are happening around him. Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez play a “BF/GF” couple who might be the least convincing professional thieves, ever. In the end, the only actor who seems to have fun is Harris, who gets to play the hammy villain.
Visually the film isn’t too bad, with Asger Leth showing solid chops for basic film construction as well as action. A lot of the heist sequences manage to create some good tension, and the editing of Kevin Stitt (Cloverfield, The Kingdom, X-Men) is smart enough to keep things moving at a good pace without letting the mind settle for too long – which is the only way this movie functions at all. As mentioned, so much of what happens in Man on a Ledge doesn’t hold up under even a second of critical thought, so the fact that watching it all play out has even a semblance of enjoyment to it is somewhat of a minor miracle in and of itself.
People who enjoy a popcorn thriller that doesn’t offer much thought will be suitably satisfied with Man on a Ledge. Otherwise, this is one that could definitely stand to fall in the “rental” category.
Man on a Ledge is now in theaters everywhere.