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Man on a Ledge Movie Review - -

Man on a Ledge

    Reviewed by Damien Straker on January 25th, 2012
presents a film directed by Asger Leth
    Screenplay by Pablo F. Fenjves
Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Anthony
    Mackie, Genesis Rodriguez, Edward Burns and Ed Harris

    Running Time:
102 mins
    Rating: M
    Released:  February 2nd, 2012




Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) walks into a room in the Roosevelt Hotel, has one last meal and then stands outside on the ledge of the building. His positioning catches the attention of the public and the media below. In a flashback we learn that Nick was once a cop, partnered with Mike (Anthony Mackie), but then also a prison escapee, claiming he was framed. He manages to escape while at the funeral of his father, much to the distress of his brother Joey (Jamie Bell). Back in the present and Nick asks for the police negotiator Lydia Spencer (Elizabeth Banks) so that he can gain further media attention. She's pressured for results by Jack (Edward Burns), a hardened cop. Meanwhile, Joey and his girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) are staging an elaborate heist in a nearby building, attempting to steal a valuable rock from corrupt businessman David Englander (Ed Harris). It becomes increasingly clear that the threads between the two brothers are somehow related.

This disappointing thriller plummets quickly to its death before it can ever catch any air. What's missing here are threads of equal weight and importance. Director Asger Leth is fixated on what is essentially a gimmicky premise, and like its main character, it has nowhere to go. I couldn't help but recall the recent heist comedy Tower Heist (2011) and its structure. Neither film is high art but Tower Heist at least saves its biggest and most elaborate set pieces till last. The rest of the film is spent developing characters that have distinct personalities, a lot of self-awareness and rather plausible knowledge about their target. Man on a Ledge is all of its title, save for an early flashback. Everything else happening around Nick simultaneously fails to engage. The heist in the nearby building is a series of tired stunts that we have been before in much better and more interesting films. There's even a laughably silly cloaking scene that echoes Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), only I don't think they were trying to be funny. Given how much time is spent on Joey and Angie, it feels ridiculously anti-climatic. A lack of continuity also sours the tension in their thread because despite being tested by various high-tech security devices, in the next sequence they're comfortably in the office of their nemesis, waiting for him. The only time the film really thrills is early on when the camera first makes the transition onto Nick's ledge. It tracks through the window and then out onto the ledge in one movement. Its impacting because we feel the separation and the contrast of the two spaces: from the safety of the interior, to what could be a sudden free fall outside.

The realism of the early ledge scenes evaporates in favour of increasingly stupid behaviour and impossible stunts. My least favourite moments are shared between Nick swinging off the body of a rappelling SWAT soldier and also when Lydia decides that she'll come out onto the ledge too. Any commentary about the media below is watered down into mindless caricatures, including a story hungry reporter and the drones cheering for Nick. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) this is not. I wondered if the scene where people in the crowd are falling over each other to catch the money Nick hurls at them was Hollywood being self-reflective. No one in Hollywood at the moment seems more locked into gruff-mode than Sam Worthington. Aside from some convincing trembling, which may or may not have been acting, he fuels Nick with little more than his usual testosterone levels. All of his dialogue reads like taglines from an era of bygone Hollywood action stars. When asked whether he thinks about hurting himself in prison he says: "Hurt myself? No. Kill Myself? Every goddamn day". I don't know why Ed Harris is in this film beyond a paycheck because he's a far better actor than being forced to play Dr. Evil's corporate equivalent. Elizabeth Banks has the look of someone more suited to a fashion catalogue, rather than a burnout, repressed cop. Try not to laugh when she attempts to coax Nick off the ledge by offering to go to lunch with him. Acting chops are about the last Genesis Rodriguez from Entourage will be remembered for. Her relationship with Jamie Bell is an uninvolving one. The implausibility of this film, whether it's the relationships, the premise, stunts or dialogue, makes it extremely hard to endure. Well before the first hour mark, that ledge was looking mighty tempting.


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