Man on a Ledge is an interesting premise for a heist film. Unfortunately, it’s not much more than that.
Here’s a trailer:
Here are the deets:
Released January 27, 2012
Written by Pablo F. Fenjves
Directed by Asger Leth
Starring Elizabeth Banks, Genesis Rodriguez, Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Ed Burns, Anthony Mackie, Kyra Sedgwick, Titus Welliver, and William Sadler
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Nick Cassidy (Worthington), a former cop, has been convicted of stealing a massive diamond from real estate magnate David Englander (Harris) while moonlighting as a guard. Cassidy is innocent, of course, and at his father’s funeral, he gets in a fight with his brother Joey (Bell) and escapes from custody.
This sets a complex plan into motion, a plan wherein Nick and Joey, along with Joey’s girlfriend Angie (Rodriguez) will exonerate Nick while getting the real bad guy, Englander, his just desserts. Part of the plan is for Nick to get attention while standing on a ledge, preparing to kill himself.
When Nick goes on the ledge, a tough, damaged police negotiator, Lydia Mercer (Banks), shows up and starts trying to talk Nick off the ledge. Along with Lydia you have a detective named Dougherty (Burns) and a team leader by the name of Dante Marcus (Welliver).
It becomes pretty clear that Nick is up to something and the audience gets to watch Nick stall Lydia and the cops while Joey and Angie pull off a daring heist in Englander’s building. Nick and Joey have thought of everything and have pulled together some impressive resources for a couple of not-very-successful New Yorkers.
The heist devolves into a climactic chase and shoot-out and the good and bad guys get exactly what you expect.
For a film with some pretty smart and clever stuff, there’s nothing about Man on a Ledge that is surprising or unpredictable. You can see the twists and reveals coming from a mile off. That said, it does deliver a few tense moments and some pretty clever trickery and sleight-of-hand. Its pace and length are also such that the movie stays as entertaining as it can throughout.
The problem is that the script doesn’t deliver what the premise promised. Too much shoot-out, too much muscle come into play to resolve the conflicts. With a clever and slick idea, you want brains to come up with smart solutions to outfox the bad guy.
What’s more, the central deceit of the film, regarding a diamond that may or may not have been stolen or hidden for purposes of insurance fraud, is kind of lame. Really? Insurance fraud?
Finally, the cast reads pretty well. Elizabeth Banks is a good actress, and she does what she can sort of, but her character is uninspiring and thus her performance is somewhat dull. Sam Worthington shouldn’t be headlining movies. Heck, he really needs to take acting lessons before he does any more movies at all. Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez are the standouts; their exchanges are fun and interesting because these two seem like real people.
Ed Burns is a good actor, but he has little to do and thus does little. And Ed Harris, you can do better. Come on. All he needed was a mustache to twirl.
Man on a Ledge is an entertaining film, but isn’t much of a thriller and doesn’t do much beyond fill in the blanks in your regular old humdrum heist film template. Actors with a little more energy might have elevated the mediocre script.
Content warnings: violence, some language
Writing: 3 Acting: 3 Overall: 3
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