Friday, July 5, 2013

Man on a Ledge

Directed by Asger Leth.
2012. Rated PG-13, 102 minutes.
Genesis Rodriguez
Ed Harris
Titus Welliver

Shortly after we meet Nick Cassidy (Worthington), his father dies. Nick’s a former police officer serving time for stealing The Monarch Diamond, a forty million dollar jewel, from David Englander (Harris). Of course, he’s maintained his innocence all along. He’s allowed to attend his father’s funeral and uses the opportunity to escape from prison. Next thing we know, he’s stepping out onto a ledge, quite a few stories up, of a hotel in mid-town Manhattan. Crowds gather and scream for him to jump, while overzealous TV news correspondent Suzie Morales (Sedgwick) gives audiences at home the play-by-play. The police show up and Nick demands that his negotiator be none other than Lydia Mercer (Banks). She shows up and tries to talk Nick out of jumping. Meanwhile, Nick’s brother Joey (Bell) and Joey’s girlfriend Angie (Rodriguez) are breaking in to the bowels of the building across the street.

It’s an intriguing premise, not least of all because our protagonist is confined to this ledge for much of the movie. He plays a verbal game of cat and mouse with Det. Mercer. Meanwhile, others are responsible for handling whatever action there is. The movie is then split into two parts: one part character study, one part heist movie. Unfortunately, neither part quite gets it right. The psychological part never really grabs hold of us as Nick and Mercer chat an awful lot about her now infamous screw-up while she every once in a while asks him to tell her what’s really going on since this is obviously not a real suicide attempt. He brushes her off and they repeat the cycle. It doesn't help that Worthington and Banks are generally bland actors.

The heist part of the picture is of a completely different tone than the rest of the movie. It’s played for laughs. Joey and Angie go about their business while incessantly bickering. This is mildly amusing for a short while, but becomes increasingly annoying. Their jokes are not funny and we just wish they would both shut up and finish their job in silence. Granted, Genesis Rodriguez is more than nice to look at, in my opinion, but by the time this movie was over I’d truly had enough of her. At least partly because he’s not nearly as nice to look at, since I’m being honest, I was through with Jamie Bell long before then.

Aside from these two main things, there are other problems with Man on a Ledge. The subplot involving Anthony Mackie’s character feels shoehorned in, totally extraneous. Our villain, played ferociously by Ed Harris, fares better, but is still just another generic corporate bad guy. He falls short of being memorable regardless of how much yelling he does. Finally, I’ll just say I rolled my eyes and sucked my teeth at two things: our hero’s one big stunt and how the story line plays out for Bill Sadler’s character.

Sadly, Man on a Ledge is another case of a film not being as good as the idea of it. It just doesn't congeal sufficiently and never really thrills us. As a result it seems to go on too long and the ending too easy. To be fair, it’s not completely boring. Worthington and Banks do manage a few nice exchanges and things even get sort of interesting for our arguing couple when people actually start looking for them. Still, we’re never really drawn to the edge of our seat.

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