Man on a Ledge. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. The title pretty much lays the film out for you and if you’ve seen the trailer then you know what you’re getting when you walk in to the theater. It’s not rocket science, but then again, it’s not meant to be. Some movies are meant to make you think and question, others are meant to make you feel, and some are just meant to kill a couple of hours. Man on a Ledge falls into the latter category, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Nick (Sam Worthington) is a former NYPD cop who was accused and convicted of stealing a whopper of a diamond from rich, ruthless white guy, David Englander (Ed Harris). Claiming his innocence, Nick hatches a plan with his brother Joel (Jamie Bell) and Joel’s girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), to prove that he didn’t steal the diamond. The plan involves Nick perching himself on the ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel while Joel and Angie break into Englander’s vault in the building across the street. Enter disgraced police negotiator Lydia Mercer who tries to talk Nick off the ledge. As time passes she begins to think that there’s more to the situation and begins to question what’s actually going on.
I haven’t told you anything that the trailer didn’t. This is a film that lays everything out for you, even if a good portion of it is pretty unbelievable. This isn’t an over the top action film, nor is it a glitzy heist film. It’s got some elements of both, but plays them a little more cerebral than what those genres normally do. Director Asger Leth is able to keep things moving quickly however, so the viewer doesn’t have time to really question what’s happening, or why. It works on the level of keeping the viewer engaged and occupied so that you don’t really notice the ridiculous-ness of it all.
I was mainly interested in this film because I wanted to see how Sam Worthington would fare in a non-action role. Even though he’s taken his licks for the roles he’s played, I still like him. Unfortunately, he’s not given much to do, but stand on the ledge. The history of how his character got to that point is told in flashbacks and that’s really the most action he sees. He doesn’t really drive the story through his actions, but instead watches it unfold with a little input here or there.
As much as I love Ed Harris, in this role, he was grossly underused. The great thing about Ed Harris is his presence. He can be menacing and evil without even breaking a sweat, but none of that came across here. It was more ham than anything else. When it comes to villains in the film, I have to say that I felt the crowd that was gathered on the street were more evil than the guy who was supposed to be evil. The mob mentality of cheering at Nick to jump made me think about what would really happen in that kind of situation.
Elizabeth Banks managed to pull a great dramatic turn in The Next Three Days, but her role as the disgraced negotiator left me a little cold. Her story is that she’s trying to keep it together after failing to stop a jumper on a previous assignment. The repercussions of that resulted in her current downward spiral. The back story’s only purpose was to hopefully make you feel something for her, but between her emoting regret, then switching to what is supposed to be a bad ass authority, it never really takes hold. I like her a lot and think she’s the cat’s meow with comedy. I think she’s got the dramatic chops, but unfortunately they didn’t shine through here.
The rest of the cast was riddled with some well-known names like Kyra Sedgwick, Edward Burns and Titus Welliver, but they all mainly played in the background. Edward Burns’ only purpose was to back up Bank’s character. Sedgwick played a gaudy news reporter and Titus Welliver (best known as the man in black from Lost) was the officer in charge at the scene. All of them could have been used much better had they been given more to work with. The same can be said for Anthony Mackie, who plays Nick’s former partner. This film even had William Sadler in it. William freaking Sadler. I dig him. He was great as the Grim Reaper on Tales from the Crypt, but his part here is sadly, quite small.
The most entertaining characters to watch were actually Joel and Angie. The boyfriend/girlfriend duo provided the snappy dialogue and humor throughout the bulk of the film. Even though one may question just how on earth these two became master thieves. They certainly don’t look the part, but they’re fun, even in their silliness, to watch. You may scoff at their methods of thievery, but then you remember that you’re not taking this movie very seriously to begin with.
All that being said, I actually liked this film. It was a decent way to kill a couple of hours on an otherwise mellow Saturday night. This will be one of those movies that the cable channels will no doubt, run endlessly, like Oceans Eleven, which was on AGAIN this past weekend. If you’re looking to just shut down for a bit, then this might be the movie for you. I still want to see Sam Worthington pull a truly great performance out of his hat so my fingers are crossed that it’ll happen one day. If you’re still undecided, check out the trailer below. Or you can just watch the trailer and call it done.Tags: Anthony Makie, Asger Leth, Ed Harris, Edward Burns, Elizabeth Banks, Genesis Rodriguez, Jamie Bell, Kyra Sedgwick, Man on a Ledge, Man on a Ledge review, Sam Worthington, Titus Welliver, William Sadler