Man on a Ledge

16 Feb

Title: Man on a Ledge
Year: 2012
Director: Asger Leth
Writer: Pablo F. Fenjves
Starring: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Anthony Mackie, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Génesis Rodríguez, Kyra Sedgwick, Edward Burns, Titus Welliver
MPAA Rating: PG-13, violence and brief strong language
Runtime: 102 min
IMDb Rating: 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 32%
Metacritic: 40


Man on a Ledge is a film that keeps itself really, really busy throughout it entire running time. My guess is that the reason as for why the plot is just so incredibly packed is that the filmmakers needed to keep you distracted because once you start picking the plot apart you’ll realize that this is just a ludicrous film, so many plot holes just up there for your viewing, thinly veiled by all the stuff the film tries to throw at you. What’s worst is that the main premise, that of the titular “man on the ledge”, is intriguing enough and could have made for a better film had the many other dumb plotlines that drown that main story been erased or dialed down a bit, and had the actors had put at least a bit of effort into this one, it just seemed as though they were doing this for a paycheck and a chance to shoot in New York.

Sam Worthington plays Nick Cassidy, an ex-cop who was serving some time in a prison until he’s given a day off to attend his father’s funeral, and in the process manages to escape his guards, change from his jail uniform, get himself to a tall Manhattan hotel, grab a nice breakfast and then go to the top of said hotel, and threaten to jump of a ledge. And look, that’s good I guess, we all know that the guy’s not going to jump straight away because that would mean our movie’s over, but so much stuff starts piling up you’ll realize this is too much, and it gets to the point in which the actors aren’t given a chance to act, which is maybe why they seemingly didn’t put that much effort into it.

That’s an even bigger pity when you consider that there are plenty of good actors in this film. A couple of good actors show up immediately as soon as the whole area becomes aware of the guy atop the building, a crowd accumulates at the bottom of the ledge (which, as we see in one too many shots from his point of view, is seriously high) and with them come two police officers, one played by Edward Burns and the negotiator that’s played by Elizabeth Banks who I’m a huge fan of and who got away with her dignity untouched from this film. But anyways, traffic is stopped, the people around him start chanting, pointing their cellphones at him, all while a reporter played by Kyra Sedgwick covers the action.

However, little by little we start realizing that Nick might have an ulterior motive for being up on the ledge. You see, the film starts cutting from him to a mogul played by Ed Harris who’s this Donald Trump sort of fella who has his offices at the building just across the street from the hotel Nick is threatening to jump off of. Also across the street, Jamie Bell and Génesis Rodríguez are breaking into the building, donning the suits and cracking the safes that I guess was meant to seem kick-ass, but it just wasn’t, even less so considering it was just two months ago that we saw all of that done in the best of ways in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (which I gave an A to).

That’s when the movie would like you to be shocked, as you realize that the man on the ledge is directly tied up to the two guys in the building across the street, as you realize that him being up there is just a diversion to stall traffic and to create a tumult that would distract from the other tumult, you know? Well, it’s not shocking because it’s just not well done at all. From the Ed Harris character looking all powerful smoking his big cigar to Kyra Sedwick trying to give meaning to all of this to Anthony Mackie also showing up as Nick’s ex-partner, these are all diversions the movie throws at you much like the one Nick himself is, trying to get you distracted enough so that you don’t notice how ridiculous this all is.

Think about it, the whole plan is just really off. This is supposed to be a master heist plan, and yet it’s one that depended entirely on a series of variables that were totally not in their favor. Nick needed to be released on one day and be able to break out from guards and not be caught in Manhattan and get himself to the top of a hotel and not fall from a ledge. Not to mention that even if he got to the ledge the plan would still be insanely hard to pull off. It’s just all way off, and I couldn’t buy into it for a single second, and considering there’s such a hubbub surrounding the entire situation it’s not as though we can invest in our characters because they’re not developed at all, and the acting is just off, so that means the whole film depends on the many plot twists and machinations working out properly, and if you use the tiniest bit of logic you’ll realize they just don’t. Had this film been lighter in tone and played it like an action-comedy I actually think it could have worked slightly better.

Grade: C 


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