I don’t mind mindless movies, ones that ask us to suspend belief and to accept the unacceptable or ridiculous, but if the same movie lacks creative dialogue, plays out predictably or has me cringing at the level of “on how stupid” moments, then I draw a line. Except for a decent cast, ‘Man on a Ledge,’ staring Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell and Elizabeth Banks, fails to deliver an interesting or remotely plausible tale. Director Asger Leth and screenwriter Pablo F. Fenjves’s story does little capture and keep attention and had it not been for Bell and his co-star Genesis Rodriquez, the movie would be a total wash.
Worthington’s former NYC police officer Nick Cassidy faces 25 years in prison (where he is when the film opens), for a crime (stealing huge a diamond) he did not commit, but no one believes him. He manages, by getting permission to attend his father’s funeral, to escape with the help of family and friends, and ends up on a ledge, where he acts as a distraction while his baby brother, Joey, (Bell) and his brother’s girl friend, Angie, (Rodriquez) work against time and the odds to prove his innocence. As part of the ruse, his treat to leap to his death, he demands to see police negotiator, Lydia Mercer (Banks), who’s hitting the bottle because her efforts to talk her last charge off of a bridge failed. She replaces, the current negotiator, Jack Dougherty (a weak and limited role for Edward Burns), and soon discovers that there is much more to Cassidy, who she first believes is a suicidal businessman, than she originally assumed.
To be fair, Worthington (in spite of a hit and miss American accent) and Banks play well off of each other, but it is Bell and Rodriquez, who attempt to actually steal the diamond, for which Nick was framed, from sinister, heartless business mogul, David Englander (Ed Harris), who makes for the more interesting aspect of the story. Rodriquez is particularly good, providing spunk, excitement, comic relief and for the guys, eye-candy. She and Bell have wonderful chemistry and the scenes with them, although totally absurd, kept me from calling the film a total waste.
Harris disappointed me in this, and frankly, I worry about his health – he looks ill, drawn and pale. He never quite hit the intensity of deviousness needed for a character like Englander and I know he could have. As I hinted above, Burns is all but wasted. He backs up Banks’ character, but I really don’t like seeing him in such a secondary role. I suppose the man has to work. Which brings me to Kyra Sedgwick, who plays a Hispanic (yes, you read right), sensationalist news reporter. She shut down her excellent show, ‘The Closer’ recently for other pursuits and I hope this is not what we are to expect. The necessary accent for her character, Suzi Morales, only came out when she pronounced her character’s last name – silly – and her extremely limited character is wholly superfluous. I can only hope she makes better choices in her post- “The Closer,” career.
One might assume from the title, that ‘Man on a Ledge’ is an edge of your seat thriller, but it falls terribly short – sliding right off that edge in to stupidity – which in this scenario proves almost as deadly as a suicide leap from a tall building. Jumping (pun intended) from one silly scene to another, ‘Man on a Ledge’ fails to even remotely hit its proverbial mark (and in this case a rescue giant airbag). Because Asger thought to cast Bell and Rodriquez (okay the rest of the cast is high quality too) I did not feel bored, but I did feel cheated.
I am guessing, ‘Man on a Ledge,’ rated PG-13, will draw audiences for a while, until word gets out, and then might gain a bit more momentum when it hits DVD, but with films like ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” still in theatres, it hardly stands a chance. The cast certainly does the best each can with the cheesy and dicey dialogue offered by Fenjves, but there I have little more good to say. Bottom line – it’s a muddled story, with a mediocre premise made a bit better by its cast. I am placing a D+ in my grade book for this one – the plus for the cast, the D for the disaster it turned out to be.