Man on a Ledge
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
By now it should come as no shock that originality in Hollywood is pretty much nonexistent these days. The latest trend in copycat filmmaking is that of taking what is no better than a cable TV movie, add a couple of names to punch up the cast, and release it theatrically all over the country. Sometimes these films are bad, or occasionally good, but generally just bland. Just like a cable TV movie.
The latest title to be added to this pseudo-genre is Man on a Ledge. It fits in the “bland” category. The plot surrounds an ex-cop who is in prison for felony theft. Right away we know he’s innocent since he doesn’t look like a sleaze ball. And if you can’t pick out one of the major bad guys within ten minutes, you don’t get out to the movies much. Anyway, he manages to escape, head to the Roosevelt Hotel in mid-town Manhattan, and perch on the ledge outside his room. Naturally, the police, not knowing who he is, try to talk him down. But he will only talk to a specific officer. Once she arrives on the scene, the games begin.
With each scene and revelation we get more of the reasoning behind all of the plot machinations, confusing as some of them may be. There are a couple of action sequences that are well-executed, although most of the first half of the film chugs along in fits and starts on its way to a warp speed finale. Director Asger Leth shows some promise in his debut feature, assuming of course he gets better material to work with. Sam Worthington, of Clash of the Titans and Avatar fame, play our hero and is fairly likeable. A couple of times during a line reading his Australian accent comes to the fore, but that’s not a big deal. Elizabeth Banks, who works a lot but hasn’t quite made her mark in movies just yet, is ok as the officer who must deal with the hero out on the ledge. Anthony Mackie, from The Hurt Locker; Jamie Bell, cinema’s original Billy Elliott a decade ago; and indie filmmaker and actor Ed Burns as another cop on the scene handle other supporting roles. Kyra Sedgewick has a cameo as a snarky TV reporter who will do anything to boost the ratings, and Ed Harris, usually a powerhouse on screen, plays the “Donald Trump Character,” and not too convincingly. A bright spot is a small role by William Sadler, listed as “Bill” in the credits, who is one of my favorite character actors. You may remember him as the villainous Colonel Stuart in Die Hard 2.
And like all movies that aren’t particularly well thought out, Man on a Ledge depends on unlikely occurrences from unlikely sources that happen at precisely the right moment, so that all the pieces fit. They provide what I like to call the “oh, good grief!” moments.
But the good things in Man on a Ledge do make it at least bearable, unlike last week’s film Haywire. But when you walk into a movie theatre and plunk down your ten bucks for a couple of hours hiding in the dark, I’m guessing you’ll want more than just “bearable.” This is the kind of film you watch at home with friends and beer and pizza.
The PG-13 rated Man on a Ledge is about to jump at all the regular locations.