Man on a Ledge
There is a strange pattern in Hollywood where, every few years, a heist movie is released which features the mastermind putting themselves at unnecessary risk for some convoluted reason whilst their team carries out the actual stealing. Man on a Ledge is one of these films.
The film follows an ex-cop played by Sam Worthington who has been jailed for stealing a diamond, who uses his father’s funeral as an opportunity to escape. After a month on the run he books a hotel room, eats dinner, and walks out onto the ledge. Cue screaming reactions, people telling him to jump, and an over-the-top police response. Worthington rejects the negotiator, played by Edward Burns, and requests another, a washed-up cop on the edge played by Elizabeth Banks. She tries to talk him down, using her metaphor against his reality, but he’s not really interested in jumping. His brother—Jamie Bell—and his brother’s girlfriend—Genesis Rodriguez—are stealing the diamond he supposedly stole before from the villainous billionaire Ed Harris, and Worthington is the distraction.
The cast are mostly good, with Banks being the standout performer. She nails the bitter cop with a moral code and is the highlight of the film. Burns presents his usual arrogant charm, which is well suited to a police officer, and Titus Welliver throws himself into the role of the senior detective on the scene. Anthony Mackie has a small role as Worthington’s former partner, though he has little to work with. Harris has been better before and since, though I suspect the script and a lack interest played equal parts in his performance. The low point here, as is often the case when he is cast, is Sam Worthington. He is wooden, unconvincing, and almost entirely lacking in charisma. I admire his rise from humble roots to global superstar—even if it was only for a few years—and a few of his films have been genuinely good, but he is not a great actor, or at least not yet. I hope he will take on some character acting roles and develop his craft, as well as improving his accents.
The direction from Asger Leth is standard fare, but the writing is sub-par. The dialogue is clunky at best. There is also the usual old-fashioned Hollywood habit of scantily-dressing the female leads whilst keeping the men fully-clothed. Banks is introduced waking up in bed wearing a loose-fitting vest, but it is Rodriguez who is the subject of the camera’s lustful gaze. Halfway through the heist, for no discernible reason other than to show her underwear, she changes from a low-cut top to a skin-tight catsuit, with the camera joining her boyfriend in ogling her wiggling behind as she attempts to squeeze into her new outfit. It’s crass and an example of the sexist focus of mediocre filmmaking.
Man on a Ledge is a throwaway thriller that is reminiscent of so many others it is almost instantly forgettable. To kill an hour and a half it is an adequate distraction, but I won’t watch it again. It’s simply not good enough.