Review: Man on a Ledge

Sam Worthington stars as an escaped convict on a ledge of a New York hotel in the aptly titled Man on a Ledge.  This thriller/heist flick has been largely panned by critics, but it’s no worse than any other average, brainless vehicle for escapism out there.  With an eclectic cast including Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell and Ed Harris, there’s enough juice to keep Man on a Ledge chugging along until (spoiler alert!) the man is no longer on the ledge.

Man on a Ledge steps out onto his ledge on 3 February in the UK

Worthington is first seen checking into the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan. Soon after checking in, he opens the window and eases himself onto the ledge, as onlookers below begin to gather. Here the film pauses to explain what has led ex-cop Nick Cassidy to take such measures.  A month prior, Nick, serving a 25 year sentence in Sing Sing prison, is notified of his father’s death.  In the company of his brother, Joey (Bell) and his girl-friend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) and two-armed prison guards, Nick attends the burial before staging a daring escape in which he is nearly killed.  Taking refuge at a well-prepared storage unit, he prepares an attempt to clear his name.  If any of what occurs at this point seems improbable, what is to follow is full-blown far-fetched.  While Nick creates a distraction with his ledge-top antics, a plot to recover the diamond he was falsely convicted of stealing plays out in an adjacent building.  As detective Mercer, Banks is tasked with talking down the would-be jumper and becomes immersed in the unravelling conspiracy.

Man on a Ledge is absolutely ludicrous.  Were it revealed that the diamond was actually an ancient alien artefact, it would be only slightly less believable than everything else that unfolds.  Yet, it’s fairly watchable, if unmemorable.  The plot remains on the right side of absurd (just) and, though the surprises are not the most surprising, they do add a bit of intrigue. Worthington’s likability goes a long way, though Banks is miscast. Bell manages to hold his American accent better than Worthington and basks in the film’s lighter moments alongside stereotypically sassy Latina Rodriguez (seemingly cast purely for the benefit of a gratuitous display of skin and undergarments mid-robbery). Ed Harris, as the evil property developer, is such a caricature that they may as well have given him a cat to stroke as he proclaims “Maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh”.  Still, it all manages to be decent enough.  The lingering smell of a made-for-TV movie is likely due to the combination of a first time feature film director, Asger Leth and a screenplay by Pablo F Fenjves, who until now has written… (wait for it)… made-for-TV movies.

If there’s one thing that Man on a Ledge perfectly accomplishes, it’s being definitively middling. It excels neither at being great nor being horrible; it is merely simple, mindless entertainment.  If anything, it’s a shame the filmmakers didn’t have more fun with the concept.  As ridiculous as it is, Man on a Ledge takes itself too seriously when it should have embraced the silliness at its core.  Ironically, the biggest flaw here is that the film plays it too safe.  Hopefully, the sequel, Another Man on a Different Ledge will learn from its predecessor’s mistakes.  6.5/10 

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About LondonFilmFan

Amateur film critic and photographer residing in sunny London.

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