Try this on for size: an ex-cop who wants to prove he was innocent of a crime that sent him “up the river” for 25 years decides that the best way to do so is to step out onto the ledge of a midtown Manhattan hotel—and create a distraction for an even wilder scheme he’s trying to cover up. As it happens, the leading actors play their parts with conviction, and director Asger Leth orchestrates the action and visual effects with considerable skill.
My problem with Man on a Ledge is that once I understood the real storyline—the one hidden behind the flashy premise—I became impatient to see it resolved. The film isn’t long, but I lost interest just the same. And while Sam Worthington, as the title character, Elizabeth Banks, as an ostracized hostage negotiator, and Edward Burns, as a dubious fellow cop, turn in good performances, other key characters are shallow and obvious, wasting the talents of such costars as Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, and Kyra Sedgwick. How many times are we supposed to summon interest in such archetypes as a dirty cop, a ruthless and corrupt business tycoon, and a self-promoting TV reporter?
That’s a shame, because Pablo F. Fenjves’ screenplay has some novel twists here and there, but they’re smothered by shopworn ideas that should have been pruned.
As for the look of the picture, I’m told that the filmmakers are proud of the fact that they actually shot on a building ledge, and put leading man Worthington in that spot. Too bad such efforts are wasted today, when we assume everything is painted on a photorealistic computer palette and can no longer tell the difference between reality and CGI.
Man on a Ledge isn’t a bad movie, but it also isn’t terribly good. It’s the kind of mediocre entertainment I expect to find opening nationwide in January.