out of Five
Running time: 102
Nicely paced and decently acted, Man on a Ledge delivers solid 'B' movie thrills for the most part, but it's also frequently ridiculous and it all falls apart in the final 15 minutes.
What's it all about?
Directed by Asger Leth, Man on a Ledge stars Sam Worthington as Nick Cassidy, an ex-cop who's managed to escape from prison after serving a couple of years for supposedly stealing a giant diamond from jewel magnate David Englander (Ed Harris). Arriving in New York, Nick heads straight for the 21st floor of a building and positions himself on the ledge where he waits for the cops (Elizabeth Banks and Ed Burns) and the media to arrive before threatening to jump.
However, it soon becomes clear that this is all part of an elaborate plan involving Nick's brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and his slinky girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), who are busy breaking into a building just across the street and are in constant contact with Nick. But what are they up to?
Worthington continues to be something of a charisma-free zone, but he's not required to do anything too emotionally taxing here and he turns in a decent performance as Nick. Fortunately, he's surrounded by a superb support cast – Banks is particularly good as his super-smart negotiator Mercer, while Harris provides a reliably hissable villain and Bell and Rodriguez (who seems to be allergic to clothes – she strips down to lacey pink underwear during the heist for no reason whatsoever) generate strong chemistry as Joey and Angie.
Leth (intriguingly, the son of The Five Obstructions' Jorgen Leth) maintains a decent pace throughout and keeps a tight control on the drip-feed of plot information in order to keep the audience guessing longer than strictly necessary. The film also makes strong use of its vertiginous central location (as does the poster) and Paul Cameron's glossy cinematography makes New York look impressively shiny, as if someone's nipped round and given everything a quick polish before the filmmakers got there.
The main problem is that even allowing for a certain suspension of disbelief, some of the plot contrivances are completely ridiculous (other reviewers have referenced TV's Prison Break and that's spot-on). Similarly, the film is frequently derivative of several much better films (e.g. Spike Lee's excellent Inside Man) and it completely falls apart during the last 15 minutes, leading to a badly written finale that's unintentionally laughable.
Despite its flaws, Man on a Ledge is enjoyable enough in a forgettable Friday night thriller sort of way. Worth seeing if you like that sort of thing.
Man on a Ledge (12A)