Man On A Ledge
Run-of-the-mill thriller spoiled by ham-fisted pretensions of social comment.
Man on a Ledge is a twisty-turny heist movie which in truth probably sounds a lot more intriguing than it actually is. It stars Sam Worthington as a former cop, framed and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Heading to a high-rise hotel in New York, he steps out onto the titular ledge and threatens to jump. With NYPD suicide squad officer Elizabeth Banks attempting to talk him down, the real reasons for his publicity stunt become clear as his brother Jamie Bell, aided by girlfriend Genesis Rodriguez come into play. With Ed Harris doing evil like only Ed Harris can as the corrupt banker responsible for Worthington’s plight, the stage is set for a good fun romp.
And fun it certainly is – there are a great deal of kinetic action scenes throughout the running time, maintaining our attention effortlessly as we are told through several layers of exposition just what the motivation for the apparent suicide attempt is. The plot itself is pretty ridiculous, although it does tell a decent conspiracy tale, and makes us cheer for the goodies and boo the baddies effectively enough.
The heist scenes are particularly silly, although a decent chemistry between Bell and Rodriguez make for enjoyable watching as they negotiate the security pitfalls of their target. The emphasis for the first two thirds of the film appear to be just this, brain-switched-off enjoyment over anything too involving, and as an adventure it does work.
There are a number of problems with Man on a Ledge which are tough to overcome. Although we as viewers are happy to overlook the silliness of the plot, the third act devolves into some cringingly overt moralizing, with the filmmakers clearly desperate to shoehorn in some “zeitgeist” (I type that word with a shudder) into the characters’ stories. It is such an unsubtle piece of recession-era preaching as to lose some credibility as an action film, which seems to be a rather heavy-handed misstep on the part of the script.
Worthington in the lead does his usual thing with a likable if cookie-cutter protaganist, in an unflashy performance which does a fine job of anchoring the film. He does get a chance to flex the muscles towards the end with a few action beats, which you get the impression he has been warming up for all along. It’s easy to bash the Australian actor for his famously dodgy American accent, but it is unfortunately as wobbly as ever here, which does take a little of the shine of some of the more intense scenes. Banks is equally able in a role which seems unsuited to her normal output, but again isn’t given a great deal to do by the script. Her character’s backstory could have allowed for some heavily emotional scenes which would have given her something to get her teeth into, but perhaps this would have been too far removed from the tone of the film.
A decent enough heist thriller, Man on a Ledge isn’t particularly memorable, but certainly doesn’t get boring at any point. If you can get past the awkwardness of the scripts more “relevant” moments (and one of the cheesiest endings ever seen), then a fun enough film awaits, which has you rooting for the characters throughout. This is rather damning the film with faint praise, but the missteps really do derail Man on a Ledge.