January 27, 2012
Review - " Man on a Ledge " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Man On a Ledge
Director: Asger Leth
Stars: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Genesis Rodriguez, Ed
Sam Worthington plays a framed ex-cop who finds himself standing on the
parapet of New York's Roosevelt Hotel, threatening to jump. However, it's not
that simple...because across the street his brother (Jamie Bell) is using his
sibling's suicide bid as a distraction for an ingenious heist. Elizabeth Banks is
the troubled police negotiator who twigs everything is not what it seems in an
efficient thriller from directing newcomer Asger Leth.
A lone man threatening to jump from a high-rise ledge is one those recurring
movie images: Gary Cooper did it in Meet John Doe, Tim Robbins did it in
unofficial MJD remake The Hudsucker Proxy, Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood
both have to contend with jumpers in Lethal Weapon and Dirty Harry.
In the 1951 noir Fourteen Hours, based on a tragic 1938 true story, and the
2011 faith vs atheism melodrama The Ledge, the entire story focuses on a
man threatening to leap from a tall building while a kind-hearted cop attempts
to talk him down.
Man on a Ledge appears to be a Fourteen Hours/The Ledge remake with
heart-in-the-mouth SFX that convincingly put Avatar’s Sam Worthington high in
But, ultimately it’s more Lethal Weapon or Die Hard, with a sprinkling of Inside Man and The Negotiator, and plot logic
fittingly up in the clouds.
A tense opening has 25-year-stretch convict Nick (Worthington) busting out of his dad’s funeral and suddenly appearing on
the top floor ledge of the New York Roosevelt Hotel, specifically requesting Detective Mercer (Banks) to show up as the
flatfoot who must talk him out of the ultimate misstep.
Recession depression would be too easy, so writer Pablo F. Fenjves (whose CV is littered with wannabe high concept TV
movies) adds murder, intrigue and anything else that comes to mind in his grab bag plotting.
So, Nick’s brother Joey (Bell, who gets in a cameo pirouette) and Joey’s smoking gal Angie (Genesis Rodriguez, on bra 'n’
panties eye-candy duty to distract from the plot holes) are executing a heist while Nick is on the ledge.
Elsewhere, a villainous real estate magnate (Ed Harris, gamely taking on the banker/credit crunch subtext) has reason to
seethe from the sidelines, Banks’ cop must battle a recent tragedy of her own and something may stink inside the New York
All of which makes Man on a Ledge increasingly preposterous, as characters drop IQ points to keep the plot moving and
develop near super powers when the story threads need resolving.
Worthington, in particular, goes from
wall-clutching bag-of-nerves to sure-footed
Spider-Man with remarkable ease when the
net closes in.
Yet, for silly, undemanding fun this delivers,
with near-miss scrapes and action that riffs on
everything from all the Die Hards to all the
Mission: Impossibles to Prison Break and even
the Ben Stiller/Eddie Murphy chuckler Tower
Worthington and Banks deal efficiently with the
unfolding mystery, dangerous news helicopters
and gung-ho tactical units, while Bell, Harris,
Edward Burns and The Hurt Locker's Anthony
Mackie provide slick support.
One pulse racing leap from the building is
worth the ticket price alone and while this
won’t be remembered as any kind of classic,
it’ll do until the next ledge-of-the-seat movie