“Man On a Ledge” by director Asger Leth premiered Jan. 27 as a crime thriller starring Sam Worthington. The Australian actor, known for a number of hit and miss films including the critically acclaimed “Avatar” (2009) and the less noteworthy “Clash of the Titans” (2010) takes on yet another genre. His new spotlight in “Man On a Ledge” is unfortunately a miss for the actor. While the movie attempts to create a suspenseful and twist-laden plot, it ultimately fails to arouse any connection to the characters and ends without much to think about afterward.
The film opens with Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), an ex-cop and convicted felon who is sentenced to 25 years for stealing a large diamond, who after escaping prison, climbs to the 21st floor of a Manhattan hotel and threatens to jump. He requests a specific police psychologist Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), who just earlier that month failed to save a jumper. As they negotiate on the rooftop, Cassidy’s brother and his brother’s girlfriend are in communication with him as they break into the jewelry exchange across the street. To clear his name, Cassidy directs the pair in hopes that they will find the diamond and reveal the true villain to be David Englander (Ed Harris), a wealthy businessman, who supposedly set up Cassidy to prevent his own bankruptcy. His potential suicide quickly becomes a distraction for the chaotic crowd beneath while the theft is occurring.
The film unfolds further, expounding upon betrayals, complexities and corruption. Still, focusing on the scenes individually or even the movie as a whole yields little spectacle. In the first half, the movie seems to drag on indefinitely with the police attempting to identify Cassidy and Mercer continually yelling into her radio. There is little to no action and drawn out conversations between Cassidy and Mercer result in the dulling continuation of a man on a ledge. A couple invigorating flashbacks somewhat counteract this, but it is not until the the end that Cassidy finally makes some active decisions. Unfortunately, they come to clichéd climaxes and practically unbelievable stunts.
With movies like “Mission Impossible” and “Oceans 11” to compare in the subject of elaborate thefts, “Man On a Ledge” is hardly a competitor. It is a bit hard to sympathize with Cassidy. Because he is on a ledge by choice and the screen stays relatively pinned to that particular point, there is no opportunity to see him in action prior to the theft. Thus, it is difficult to see that he has some good nature which offers reason to cheer for him. Flashbacks may have solved this problem, revealing the life he is fighting to return to, but that was not the case. There aren’t even flashbacks of the actual crime in question to increase the suspense. Furthermore, there is little to invest in as he rallies the crowd against the police in yelling his innocence repeatedly. As a result, viewers remain relatively removed from the character of Cassidy. The film only skims over his belief that escape from prison is not true freedom. Only the proof of his innocence will be enough.
In closing, the entire movie does not go beyond the initial and soon redundant question of whether or not the man on the ledge will jump. Though an admirable idea, the plot is not gripping in its periodic reveals and obstacles. Due to the flatness of the main characters, the twists become ineffective and uninteresting. This lack of character development also failed to make the situation believable in the first place. As a result, “Man On a Ledge” was far from the cliffhanger narrative it tried to be.
Rating: 2 stars