MAN ON A LEDGE FALLS FLAT ON ITS FACE
After being sentenced to twenty-five big ones in Sing Sing correctional facility, ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) executes a plan to not only escape his incarceration but clear his name of the high-profile crime for which he was framed. Following an action packed origins story indebted to The Fugitive (day-glow orange jumpsuit and high-speed train included) we find Nick situated upon the titular ledge and attracting a media frenzy hundreds of feet below – but here is where Man on a Ledge’s promising beginnings begin to descend in to a downward spiral of confusion and implausibility.
There are just too many elements of narrative and sub-plot squeezed on to that tiny Roosevelt Hotel ledge. A tentative romance angle (which ultimately begins the moment Elizabeth Banks enters the room) cases of mistaken identity, bloodthirsty reporters, a corrupt NYPD and an amoral businessman can’t all co-habit without detracting from one another’s impact – resulting in a film which is the sum of a confused and unoriginal set of parts. Whereas the double-takes and trickery of the Ocean’s Trilogy were executed with an elegant ‘joie de vivre’ allowing you to overlook their ridiculousness, Man on a Ledge forces its heist exposition down your throat with a clumsy, heavy-handed touch, which for all its trying can’t be ignored. Ed Harris’ highly sophisticated, space-age, diamond vault may as well be a chocolate teapot for all the good it does in repelling the inept cat burglar duo of Jamie Bell and Génesis Rodríguez. The pair responsible for several uncomfortable and irritating passages which are so unbelievable they make you feel a bit of a clown for sitting and watching them.
That being said, most performances are of a very high standard. Elizabeth Banks’ troubled hostage negotiator, Edward Burns’ cynical detective and Sam Worthington’s wronged cop all display great chemistry in the process of carrying out their duties – each deserving of far more screen time to allow for a rapport to be fully realised between both one another and the audience. Man on a Ledge is a fun and enjoyable action thriller which may offer a few shocks, depending on your DVD collection, but the awkward tightrope it treads between realism and cinematic make-believe is where it falls flat on its face.
This piece was originally featured at Rushes and can also be read here