Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DVD Review: Man on a Ledge

Man on the Ledge **
Directed by: Asger Leth.
Written by: Pablo F. Fenjves.
Starring: Sam Worthington (Nick Cassidy), Elizabeth Banks (Lydia Mercer), Jamie Bell (Joey Cassidy), Ed Harris (David Englander), Anthony Mackie (Mike Ackerman), Genesis Rodriguez (Angie), Edward Burns (Jack Dougherty), Titus Welliver (Dante Marcus), Kyra Sedgwick (Suzie Morales), William Sadler (Valet).

If I were so inclined, I could spend the entirety of this review just poking holes in the plot of Man on a Ledge. It seems to know nothing about how the legal system or prison system works. It seems to know about hostage negotiation, the media or jewel heists either. In short, there is not really a minute of Man on a Ledge that you can take the least bit seriously. But did I like it? Not really. But was I bored? No, I wasn’t. The movie was too goofy to bore me.

We first meet Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) in prison. He is there because of an apparent jewel heist, that he says he is innocent of, and we believe him, because it’s Sam Worthington, and he seems incapable of deception. He was a cop, and his old partner Mike (Anthony Mackie) comes to tell him his brother died – but he’ll get him out for the funeral on a day pass. Flash to the funeral, where Cassidy escapes, of course. Flash forward again, and he’s checking into a swanky New York Hotel. It is not long before he’s out on the ledge, and demanding to talk to Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), a hostage negotiator who just blew a big case – but did get a lot of media attention. And Nick needs a crowd and attention, because he’s not really planning on killing himself – he just wants to cause a distraction so that his other brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and his hot girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) can break into the office of David Englander (Ed Harris) across the street. It was Englander’s diamond Nick apparently stole, and he wants to prove he didn’t.

Once you figure you, fairly early on, that the movie is ridiculous, you can either roll your eyes at the film or you can role with it. No, I do not think that anything would play out like it does here – where even seemingly minor secondary characters who just happen to be on the scene turn out to be players in the conspiracy that put Nick in jail in the first place. The actors for the most part sell it. Sam Worthington is still a blank slate of an actor, and a rather bland leading man, but his role does not really require much out of him. Better is Elizabeth Banks as a train wreck of a negotiator who gets a chance at redemption, who really does make you believe that she would do the crazy things she does. Jamie Bell, who can be great, is pretty much wasted as Nick`s brother. As for Ed Harris, he some manages to be even more immediately evil than he was in A History of Violence, where he showed up dressed like a Reservoir Dog with scars all over his face. He is a real estate Wall Street tycoon, and if there has ever been a good one of those in a movie, I cannot remember them. The less said about Kyra Sedgwick as a reporter on the street the better – it’s not her fault, but the movie never does anything with her. I think they were trying to make the tired point that the media are heartless ghouls who use tragedy for the sake of ratings – but the movie cannot even make that labored point believable, because it forgets about her for long stretches at a time.

Man on the Ledge moves at a quick enough pace that you’re never bored by it, but not so quickly that it makes you forget just how ridiculous it is.

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