Director: Asgar Leth
Starring: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris
With a title about as subtle as 2006’s Snakes on a Plane, there are absolutely no
prizes for guessing what this film is about.
Unfortunately, while snakes and planes have some value as content for mindless thrillers, men and ledges simply do not.
The film centres on escaped convict Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), who re-surfaces in an expensive Manhattan hotel and suddenly steps out onto the ledge outside his window, where he will remain for almost the entire movie.
The concept may not sound scintillating on paper – and that’s because it’s not – but Nick is obviously up to a great deal more than threatening to jump off the ledge of a hotel and create a splattered mess on the pavement below.
For it emerges, through a poorly conveyed flashback structure that abruptly and unsatisfactorily falls by the wayside, that Nick is a former cop who has broken out of prison after being convicted for, wait for it, ‘a crime he didn’t commit’.
Man on a Ledge sits firmly in the B-movie category of single-setting thrillers, so riddled with plot holes and logical inconsistencies that the pulling of any one plot thread will quickly unravel the whole show.
Director Asger Leth is able to inject plenty of action into each scene, which serves well to distract us – at least until it becomes apparent that scriptwriter Pablo F. Fenjves doesn’t have that many tricks up his sleeve.
Every plot point is cliched and foreseeable, and the film ends up getting by on tension and suspense alone – that is to say you’ll probably see what’s coming, but watching it play out is still somewhat enjoyable.
As events unfold though, the implausibility of the entire situation only increases, and by the time that Nick Cassidy’s fate is decided, the story has pretty much gone off the rails.
Visually the film isn’t too bad. Some of the heist sequences manage to create some good tension, and the editing is smart enough to keep things moving at a good pace without letting the mind settle for too long – which is the only way this movie functions at all.
Yet the real problem is Worthington’s lead performance. He fails to bring the intensity and charisma needed for the character to hold our attention. Instead, he’s flat and dull and leaves you wondering how much more gripping the film would be with someone else standing on that ledge.
US critics have said that Man on a Ledge is a metaphor for how perilous the Australian actor’s career has become after Avatar. That’s maybe a little cruel, but even Worthington recently admitted that he’s happy to continue playing action movie roles.
He’ll have to pick better scripts and deliver more intensity than he shows here though – or else find himself pushed from that ledge.
– Dane Halpin
1 1/2 stars