The beginning of Man On a Ledge definitely hooks you in, but as the movie goes on, you realize the plot is going downhill fast.
The movie begins with what initially appears to be a suicidal man on a hotel ledge. We find out this man has just escaped from prison and now he’s determined to clear his name or die. All good stuff, right?
Then — cue the yawns — we find out he’s a former police officer who claims to have been framed. Director Asger Leth’s movie enters disappointing crooked-cop-cliché territory from here and never really recovers.
Former NYPD officer Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) has been accused of stealing a multi-million-dollar diamond from real estate tycoon David Englander (Ed Harris). Fresh from a prison escape (huge plot holes abound during that scene), Nick perches himself on the ledge of Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hotel while his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and brother’s girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) break into Englander’s nearby building to prove the diamond wasn’t really stolen.
Basically, Nick’s just supposed to be a big distraction while Joey and Angie pull off the heist across the street.
Elizabeth Banks is Lydia Mercer, the negotiator who tries to talk him down. Her character is really nothing special. Samuel L. Jackson (from 1998’s The Negotiator) she’s not. Meanwhile, the crooked cops (is it me or does the NYPD always get a bad rap in these movies?) are furiously trying to keep their evil deeds covered up; some have played a hand in the so-called framing of Nick.
The most memorable thing about the bland Sam Worthington’s performance was his feeble attempt to hide his Aussie accent. It made his whole “cop from Queens” character feel like a total sham.
As movie villains go, Harris’ bad guy-in-a-suit David Englander is a lame one. He’s in the movie so little, he’s almost a non-entity. The back-and-forth bickering between Joey and Angie likely was supposed to be comic relief, but I found Angie’s hot-tempered Latina persona too stereotypical and tiring after a while. Also, the movie gives little to no insight as to how those two had the skills to circumvent a rather elaborate security system. Those kinds of skills aren’t exactly everyday knowledge.
Kyra Sedgwick’s talents are completely wasted in a few scenes as Suzie Morales, the world’s most phony TV journalist.
One part of the movie I found very annoying — and even a bit unnerving — was the way the onlookers kept encouraging Nick to jump. I mean, do people really do that sort of thing? For the sake of humanity, I would hope not.
The pace is fast, the movie is not all that believable (which is generally OK if a movie is otherwise entertaining), but the hokey Hollywood ending is really the icing on this not-so-great cake.
Man On a Ledge is ultimately a forgettable movie at a time of year when people are still talking about last year’s flicks and predicting the movie stars who will go home with Oscar.
Still, I was mostly engaged in the plot, so that stops me from calling the movie a total waste of time. ••
Movie Grade: B-EndFragment