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When dealing with a movie called Man on a Ledge, there are certain inescapable expectations that should go with the territory.
First of all, unless the intended meaning is a figurative one, it ought to involve an actual man perched somewhere on a ledge.
Secondly, there should be a palpable, edge-of-your-seat peril; that at any moment the individual and his ledge could part company.
To his credit, director Asger Leth (Ghosts of Cite Soleil) gets right to the business at hand where the set-up is concerned, but it’s in the execution that this would-be thriller falls flat.
There’s never the feeling that wronged cop Sam Worthington is in any real danger despite spending most of the film’s 103-minute running time clinging to his windswept Roosevelt Hotel roost, some 200 feet above 45th Street.
That’s not to say the talky picture isn’t a complete letdown, thanks mainly to a colorful cast that has its energetic way with the B-movie dialogue (courtesy of screenwriter Pablo F. Fenjves, ghostwriter of the infamous O.J. Simpson book, If I Did It: The Confessions of the Killer) it has its entertaining moments, but it never lives up to that nail-biting potential.
The promise of something more could initially lure the thrill-seekers, but this Summit Entertainment release will likely perform best in its ancillary life.
Having recently escaped from prison, disgraced NYPD detective Nick Cassidy (Worthington) checks into the midtown Manhattan hotel, and, after ordering room service, promptly climbs out of his window and onto that tight ledge.
Is he really suicidal? Or is this his one shot to proclaim his innocence to the quickly-swarming crowd below? And just what is his relationship to the piranha of a businessman (Ed Harris) who’s about to unveil his new real estate venture?
It should come as no surprise that not everything is quite what it seems to be in Man on a Ledge, but the various reveals would have been more effective if the audience had been too distracted to figure out the Mission: Impossible-type machinations so far in advance.
What was needed was the skill of a Sir Ridley or Tony Scott, the sort of filmmakers who can deliver on the sort of tightly-calibrated action sequences required here, constantly ratcheting up the tension.
And while much of the plot logic also appears to have been tossed out that window and the corny dialogue does Aussie Worthington and his unconvincing New York accent no favors, others in the cast, including Elizabeth Banks as a jaded NYPD negotiator and Jamie Bell as Worthington’s younger brother, manage to keep things lively.
Looking to be particularly enjoying herself is Kyra Sedgwick as a tough cookie of a New York TV reporter named Suzy Morales who elicits chuckles each time she rolls the “r” in her last name.
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