Starring: Sam Worthington, Anthony Mackie, Jamie Bell, Genesis Rodriguez, Edward Burns, Ed Harris, Elizabeth Banks, Kyra Sedgwick, Titus Welliver, William Sadler.
Director: Asgen Leth
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Date: January 27, 2012
Home Video Release Date: May 29, 2012
Box Office: $18.6 Million
Di Bonaventura Pictures and Summit Entertainment.
Written by: Pablo F. Fenjves
|“Jump! Jump! Jump!” – throng of Manhattainites cheering Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington).One should never begin a written piece with an utterance and so, I am placing these words in front of the first word I really wish to begin with when writing about Man On A Ledge. That word is SIGH. Oh yes, the sigh. Defined by the folks at Dictionary.com as “(the) emit(ting of) a long, deep, audible breath expressing sadness, relief, or tiredness.” Never has a word been more apt or on point than “sigh” when thinking about the goofy spectacle of a film that is Man On A Ledge.
I mean, I get it. Man On A Ledge is not, and never was going to be, an Oscar-winning classic and I completely agree with the notion that many critics, film reviewers, and writers often succumb to their own hubris and self-imposed elitism when it comes to evaluating films such as Man On A Ledge. I mean, look at the title. There’s a man. And he is on a ledge. No different than say snakes. On a plane. Or that hobo. With a shotgun. So, yeah, Man On A Ledge is really nothing more than a man on a ledge.
Until it tries to be more than that. And then…it becomes quite easy to tear this film apart for being devoid of logic, exuberantly simple-minded, and saddled with one of the most cliche-laden and flat out headscratching screenplays of recent memory. They should have simply placed a man on a ledge and left it there.
“Man” is Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), an ex-con who has made the break from prison and is ready to leverage proving his innocence for a crime he swears he didn’t commit against his life. He enters a 5-star hotel under an assumed name, has an expensive breakfast, and then, after a huge gulp of air, encounters “Ledge” (Ledge). He summons a police negotiator by name, Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), and we learn that Mercer’s last negotiation, led to her charge jumping after he convinced Mercer he would remain alive.
Cassidy remains on the ledge and soon things seem curious and fail to add up for Mercer and her antagonistic de facto police partner, Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns). And sure enough, unbeknownst to Mercer, Dougherty, and every other police officer in and around the hotel where Man is standing on Ledge, Nick’s little brother, Joey (Jamie Bell) and his centerfold ready girlfriend, Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), are embedded deep within a neighboring highrise owned by David Englander (a pay¢he¢k ¢a$hing Ed Harri$). Englander was instrumental in having Cassidy convicted for taking part in a heist where Englander’s prized diamond, valued at more than $40 million, was stolen. Cassidy believes Englander made the whole thing up to offset massive losses in the financial crisis of 2008 by cashing in an insurance policy. Joey and Angie are looking for the diamond and all that is great and all…but, what about that MAN on that LEDGE!!!
The assembled cast is game for all of this but are ridiculously miscast. While we learn that Sam Worthington can act in a confined space, we also recognize that Elizabeth Banks is completely wrong for the role of a police negotiator as she sputters her lines with an unshakable monotone drone. Kyra Sedgwick provides the best moment of the year when she introduces herself as Suzy Morales, Reporter On Scene, and drops perhaps the greatest anglo-Hispanic accent of all time when simply telling us her name. Anthony Mackie, a good and often impressive actor, is reduced to nothing as Just Another Suspect Cop, and everyone else is completely forgettable. Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez generate no chemistry, but director Asger Leth gives us the gratuitous PG-13 moneyshot of Rodriguez wearing skimpy Victoria’s Secret underwear while changing into some type of wetsuit looking costume, which somehow is supposed to help her navigate down an elevator shaft easier so she can disarm a keypad and …oh, nevermind. Hot girl. Underwear. Man On A Ledge, people! Let’s move on.
The fault here lies squarely at the feet of Pablo F. Fenjves, a first-time feature film screenwriter who has a dozen or so Made-for-TV movie credits including Bloodhounds, Bloodhounds II, and a personal favorite When The Dark Man Calls (checking Netflix queue as I write this…). Man On A Ledge is nothing more than a briskly directed made-for-cable feature and while it is not embarrassingly bad on the level of a production from the SyFy Channel, it is nothing even remotely close to something you would find on HBO. Think something on TNT or TBS and you get the idea.
Man On A Ledge finally delivers an ending as absurd as anything you will ever see. Let’s be real here though. You want to make a one-note lighthearted drama about a Man on a Ledge, I’m fine with it. You want to make a jewel heist movie with undertones of police corruption and a man trying to prove his innocence? Go for it. However, if you want to marry the two with an illogical gimmick that not only borrows from other films but reduces your two main characters to acting on a ledge and out of a window for 90 of your 100+ minute running time, you really need to rethink your entire premise.
Man On A Ledge is a waste of everyone’s time and energies and whatever compelled the Worthingtons, Sedgwicks, Burns’, Mackies, Banks’, and Harri$’ of the world to make this film tells me they were themselves victims of an artistic heist of some sort, or they simply no longer care about the work they do. Maybe, he should have just jumped after all.