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The Independent Critic

Jamie Bell, Sam Worthington, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Edward Burns, Kyra Sedgwick, Elizabeth Banks
Asger Leth
Chris Gorak, Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber, Pablo F. Venjves
Rated PG-13
102 Mins.
Summit Entertainment

  • The Ledge
  • Trailer with commentary by Elizabeth Banks

 "Man on a Ledge" Review 
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If you've always dreamed of a suspense thriller involving suicide and a heist woven into the fabric of your typical American cynicism, then the completely implausible Man on a Ledge is for you.

Try to follow.

Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is an imprisoned ex-cop let out for a day to attend his ex-father's funeral under police escort. Of course, he's able to ditch said escort and he promptly registers in at a New York City high-rise hotel where he ends up climbing out on, you guessed it, the ledge. Suicidal? Perhaps. Maybe, just maybe, there's something else going on.

Man on a Ledge cuts away between Nick, a wealthy real estate mogul (Ed Harris) and Nick's brother and the brother's girlfriend (Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez). Of course, the scene attracts a cop (Edward Burns) who tries to talk him down and a police psychologist (Elizabeth Banks) who tries even more. Then, of course, there's the relentless reporter (Kyra Sedgwick) who really just wants to get the big story while those cynical New Yorkers all stand around hoping to get some decent footage for some quick bucks or Youtube or something along those lines.

If all of this sounds even remotely plausible to you, then this film is the film for you. If you don't care if any of this sounds plausible, then this may very well be the film for you.

Me? I had a hard time suspending or, well, completely abandoning my sense of reality long enough to go along with the story. There are too many "what ifs" to consider to truly buy into this story and ultimately what it's all about. Oh, and I guarantee you it's not actually about a guy trying to kill himself.

But, I think you knew that.

If Man on a Ledge lived up to the anxiety-inducing camera work of D.P. Paul Hammond and Richard Kidd's special effects, then the film would likely be an unexpected gem in the post-awards season glut of throwaway films. Unfortunately, Asger Leth can't seem to sustain any degree of suspense and the script, mostly credited to Pablo F. Fenjves, is more fit for a B-movie than a wide release thriller.

The cast is equally lacking in engagement here. While it's understandable that this faux suicide attempt would lack dramatic heights, Worthington seems almost uninterested despite the fact that his character is hanging precariously on a 21st floor ledge with a crowd shouting for him to "Jump!" and a news helicopter getting almost close enough to force the issue. Worthington's placidity is distracting, especially when he's in scenes with the dramatic Kyra Sedgwick, one of this film's few highlights. Elizabeth Banks again finds her in a project that does nothing with her screen presence, but she's hurt even more by Leth's inability to pace a shot correctly thus ensuring that her dramatic moments are muted.

Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez do have a rather sizzling chemistry, though I will confess that to this day seeing Jamie Bell without dancing shoes is a tad dramatic.

Director Asger Leth and the folks at Summit Entertainment obviously intended to stress the film's heightened suspense given they called the film Man on a Ledge. Unfortunately, when the camera's not focused on that ledge the film loses all its suspense and drama. If you're able to truly suspend your belief, Man on a Ledge may prove to be a decent popcorn flick but it's opening alongside the far more satisfying Liam Neeson vehicle The Grey and, if there's any justice, it will be the latter film that captures your attention this opening weekend.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic