"Ledge" Means Entertaining Ride

by Jeff Beck, Guest Film Critic
"Ledge" Means Entertaining Ride

“Man on a Ledge” is not a film that will change the way we look at thrillers, but it is a film that has enough thrills to provide for a very entertaining ride. Sure it gets a little silly at times, and you may even find yourself in disbelief at some of the events, but thanks to an engaging premise, some tension, and a few well-shot action scenes, the film keeps you intrigued as it hurtles through its story.

Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is an ex-cop who is in jail because he was convicted of stealing a large diamond. He is allowed out for a day to attend his father’s funeral, after which he escapes and makes his way to New York City. He checks into a hotel, eats breakfast, and writes a note proclaiming his innocence before climbing out the window and onto the ledge where he threatens to jump if he doesn’t get to talk to a negotiator by the name of Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks).


It quickly becomes apparent that something else is going on here and we very soon find out what. The owner of the hotel happens to be David Englander (Ed Harris), the man who owns the diamond that Nick was accused of stealing. Across the street is Englander’s office where Nick’s brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), and Joey’s girlfriend, Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), are trying to find proof of Nick’s innocence. A crowd begins to form below Nick as they anticipate his jump while the police scramble to diffuse the situation, even more so when they discover who he is. However, Lydia is not quite convinced he’s the criminal he’s been made out to be.


What really ends up working for “Man on a Ledge” is how it switches off between the two tense storylines. We get the thrills of Nick trying to keep everyone distracted on the ledge while we also get to witness a heist taking place across the street. Nick knows it’s only a matter of time before they figure out he’s not really going to jump, so all he can do is try to buy time with the negotiator.


Before he even started this whole thing, he knew exactly who he wanted to talk to because Lydia had been through a rough situation of her own while on her job, so Nick is hoping that her sympathy will help him out. Even with a negotiator in place, the police still mobilize a team in an attempt to remove him from the ledge, so time becomes even more important.


Meanwhile, across the street, Joey and Angie are attempting to bypass multiple layers of security (though apparently not anything nearly as sophisticated as “Ocean’s Eleven” or “Mission: Impossible”). This requires a lot of climbing through various elevator shafts and air vents as well as disabling sensors and bypassing locks. Both of these storylines keep the tension at a high as we wait to see how events will unfold.


The performances aren’t really anything worth noting. Worthington gives his standard blank portrayal that we’ve seen him do in pretty much every film he’s in. Harris has shown that he makes an excellent villain before (see “A History of Violence” for a prime example), and even though he only has a little screentime here, he still makes the most of it.


The one bizarre casting choice was Elizabeth Banks as Lydia. She’s mainly know for roles in comedies like “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” and “Our Idiot Brother,” so it was quite strange to see her in a role like this. She’s not particularly bad in the role, but she’s not particularly good either. She’s worked as a comic actress for such a long time that it’s going to be awhile before she’s taken seriously in such a gritty role. However, as I’ve said before, I always find it interesting to see an actor try something out of their comfort zone.


“Man on a Ledge” may be a little silly, but like “Contraband,” another recent thriller, it keeps you on the edge of your seat while you wonder what will happen next. It’s surprising to learn that this comes from an unknown director, Asger Leth, and a screenwriter, Pablo F. Venjves, who has only dabbled in small TV projects. They’ve made a good film, which is impressive given that neither of them have much experience with the big screen. Perhaps their next projects will be even better with the experience they’ve gained. 3/4 stars.

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