Studio: Summit Entertainment
Length: 102 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for violence and brief strong language.
Theatrical Release: January 27, 2012
Directed by: Asger Leth
Written by: Pablo F. Fenjves
Sam Worthington - Nick Cassidy
Elizabeth Banks - Lydia Mercer
Anthony Mackie - Mike Ackerman
Jamie Bell - Joey Cassidy
Ed Harris - David Englander
You can only push an innocent man so far.
January 26, 2012
Grade: C (Rotten)
Man on a Ledge falls firmly into the category of the "time filler" film. Itís a competently made, never dull suspense yarn that seems perfectly content being average and unassuming. The problem is that itís a little too unassuming. A setup like this should wring suspense out of the audience a la Phone Booth or other single location films, but Man on a Ledge chooses the path of lazy banter and increasingly ridiculous plot developments. Youíre never bored, but youíre also aware of how much better it could be.
Sam Worthington is Nick Cassidy, an escaped convict who has checked in to a plush suite at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. He orders some room service, eats it, and nonchalantly makes his way out to the ledge outside his window. Itís not long before bloodthirsty crowds are gathering, along with the cops. On the beat to talk him down is Lydia Mercer (Banks), a negotiator who recently failed to prevent a rookie cop from jumping off a bridge.
Director Asger Leth, working from a screenplay by Pablo F. Fenjves, keeps the setup exposition short and compact, allowing for the action on the ledge to gain momentum quickly. Problems arise, however, when Nickís real motivations come to light. Needless to say, these developments completely undercut any suspense the film had built up and from there itís a series of mostly ridiculous heist sequences and a severely convenient ending.
The cast here is excellent Ė on paper. Casting Sam Worthington as a would-be-empathetic lead is pushing the limits of his capabilities as an actor. Heís more of a presence than a relatable human being. Serviceable supporting work is turned in by Elizabeth Banks, Edward Burns, and an underused Ed Harris. Relative newcomer Genesis Rodriguez makes the grade for having what must be one of the most strategically filmed cleavages of all time. Iím not complaining Ė just observing and reporting.
Man on a Ledge will be lost and forgotten in a matter of months, but itís suitable filler fare for the cold winter months. The script was a few rewrites away from being a solid suspense piece, but instead settles into a talky, obvious second half. It does deserve this: itís never dull. Thereís always a subplot going on, regardless of its necessity to the story. Itís the kind of movie that Redbox was invented for, meaning thereís no way it can be recommended as a top-dollar, first-run must see. Bored and hung-over? Itíll get the job done.
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