Film Review: Man On A Ledge

(Published on Lost In The Multiplex and in Issue 7 of my publication In Retrospect)

Directed by Asger Leth, Man On A Ledge is an American thriller that follows ex-New York policeman Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), who is arrested for stealing a $40 million diamond from businessman David Englander (Ed Harris). Maintaining his innocence and claiming that he had in actuality been set up by Englander, Nick climbs out of a window on the 25th floor of the Roosevelt Hotel. Apparently ready to commit suicide, negotiator Lydia (Elizabeth Banks) tries to talk him down, but unbeknownst to her Nick has no intention of jumping and is rather acting as a distraction. In fact, Nick’s brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend Angie (Génesis Rodríguez) are meanwhile involved in something much bigger, as they attempt to break into Englander’s office to prove Nick’s innocence. But will it all go to plan?

The premise of Man On A Ledge is very much in the same as Joel Schumacher‘s thriller Phone Booth, which starred Colin Farrell in 2002. The main focus of the film is of a man unable to move from a single spot whilst something bigger goes on in a less predominate story in linear with the first. This plot is moderately intriguing, especially as this time around it involves a couple trying to prove the innocence of another, rather than breaking into a building for their own profit. It was, therefore, easy to know what characters to support in the film, but this also meant that it easy to guess how the story would conclude.

Beginning with Nick’s escape from prison and believing that maybe he does genuinely want to commit suicide, it’s a while before we know the main reason for his actions and again the reasons for his brother’s. Whilst there is enough going on during the film to avoid the premise of a man standing on a ledge for 90 minutes, Man On A Ledge is very much a film based on its dialogue rather than one full of decent enough action to overshadow its flaws. The action here is replaced with a slight use of comedy. Admittedly, the rest of the cinema was laughing a lot more than I did, but there were a couple of scenes that provoked the corners of my mouth to rotate. This did, however, take away the seriousness of the film, with Rodríguez’s character, for the most of it, dumbing the film down.

Unfortunately, largely because of this, the film ended up being very mediocre as without any real action, the film needed to be an intense thriller for it to impress. It wasn’t. Whilst, as previously mentioned, there was lot going on, it wasn’t obvious as to why. I’m not sure if this was because of a lack of full attention after losing all interest or whether it generally just wasn’t explained well enough, but what Nick’s brother and his brother’s girlfriend were planning to do to prove Nick’s innocent was a mystery to me until the end. Although the plot linked together well, with the stories playing alongside each other without causing too much confusion, there wasn’t enough emphasis on the explanations and it was, therefore, easy to miss out on a lot of key information.

One aspect of the film that I did enjoy was its combination of decent actors in roles that really suited them. At first, I found it hard to believe that the main character was played by Worthington, which took me a while to realise having not read much about the film beforehand. Whilst this had no effect on the film, his role here is very different from what we are used to, with no blue beings or mythological creatures in sight. Alongside his odd-looking haircut compared to his usual shaven head as well, it was very hard to come to terms with this being the same actor. He did, however, pull his character off and was in fact very fitting in his role.

For Banks as well, it’s not often that we see her in such a serious role, most recognisable for her character in the comedy series Scrubs, but her character here was genuinely believable and again, in the circumstances, worked well. As for Bell, we are seeing a lot more of him in more action led films lately, which is why it’s always funny to remind others that he was once Billy Elliot. His role, as well, was a very good fit and almost relatable, even if we have seen this character of his more than once over the past few months.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to keep me engaged and by the end of the film I had lost nearly all interest. If this is your kind of film then it’s a very good take on the subject matter. It wasn’t necessarily a boring or badly done film, but it was just too obvious where everything was going and was therefore not as exciting or thrilling as I had hoped.

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