I laughed when a friend recently asked me, “What’s that movie where the guy is on the ledge?” I looked at him a bit cross-eyed and said, “You mean Man on a Ledge?” Fortunately, had he wanted to see the film, I don’t think he would have had a problem buying tickets for the right one, but I wouldn’t ever suggest he pay full price for it. After all, just watch the trailer, all that’s missing are a few stunts, a cliched rooftop moment and the end credits. Is any of that really worth the price of admission? To answer my own question, no, it’s not.
In case you were even more confused than my friend, Man on a Ledge is about a man on a ledge. That man is Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), an ex-cop and now escaped fugitive. What did Nick do that landed him in prison? Well, he stole a big ol’ diamond from NYC big wig David Englander (Ed Harris), or at least that’s what he was convicted of.
You see, Nick claims he’s innocent and to prove his innocence he is going to threaten to jump off a building. Yes, there is more to the story than that, but I don’t want to spoil that part of the film for you, I’ll let the trailer do that.
Other characters in the cast include Nick’s old partner (Anthony Mackie), his brother (Jamie Bell) and his brother’s girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez), whom most people are interested in because they manage to find a way to the trailer.
Then there are the police negotiators, which include what appears to be a bewildered Ed Burns making it look like he’s never acted before, Elizabeth Banks who plays the lead negotiator at Nick’s request and they even manage to slide William Sadler (Heywood from The Shawshank Redemption) in there as a kindly old bellhop.
However, the best role in the whole film goes to Kyra Sedgwick playing on the spot reporter Suzie Morales who gets the best line of the movie when she pronounces her last name. Sure, it lasts about half-a-second, but it’s pretty funny.
The most surprising thing to come from this film is that it would appear the Sam Worthington experiment has failed. At least in terms of his ability to act. Worthington’s big coming out moment in Avatar found him landing roles left and right, but he has not yet been able to deliver outside of his performance in the little-seen gem Last Night.
Here, Worthington struggles with his accent to the point you don’t know if he’s Australian, British, Irish or American. The only thing he was truly able to sell me on was that he was on a ledge, a fact my friend was able to grasp from the trailer, which is just one more example of how the trailer is the way to go.
Directed by Asger Leth, who has seen his share of projects fall apart in recent history, it would seem he should have looked elsewhere for his narrative feature debut. After winning director of the year from the Directors Guild in 2008 for his documentary Ghosts of Cite Soleil, screenwriter Pablo F. Fenjves didn’t do him any favors with the screenplay for Man on a Ledge, proving this is no consolation for Cartel, a film he was previously lining up with Sean Penn and Josh Brolin before it fell apart.
Man on a Ledge is best described as a PG-13, direct-to-video feature. It’s one of those films where you are frequently two or three steps ahead of the story and are only tuning in to waste some time. You can get most of what this film offers from any made-for-TV movie or prime time procedural. There’s no need to waste money heading to the theater, especially when you can… yup… just watch the trailer.