Sam Worthington’s Hollywood career continues in this by-the-numbers thriller about a man, well, on a ledge. Perhaps if the trailer hadn’t warned its audience that the film was about more than, well, a man on a ledge, this film might have worked in a Phone Booth kind of way, but beyond the central (non-)twist there is little here to surprise.
Nick Cassidy (Worthington) is standing on a ledge, high above the city streets. A flashback sequence details that he is a former cop who was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, but has now escaped and – for reasons known only to him – has walked out onto a window ledge. Elizabeth Banks is Lydia Mercer, a police negotiator whose last job went sour but who now finds herself in the middle of Cassidy’s game. They must form an unlikely alliance to achieve both of their goals.
It isn’t that Man on a Ledge isn’t adequate entertainment, it’s more that there is so little original here that it won’t demand the attention of anyone familiar with the output of Hollywood over the past ten to twenty years. The most striking parallel is to the under-appreciated The Negotiator but, sadly, Worthington isn’t quite up to Samuel L. Jackson’s level, and Banks is certainly no Kevin Spacey.
There is no rule that a film must be original to be entertaining or have artistic merit – after all, there is very little original material any more, and a solid argument can be made that all films are essentially rip-offs of what has come before – but it had better contain wonderful performances or some other striking characteristic or it deserves only to go straight to dvd rental. Worthington does a passable job of his role, although very often his Australian accent sneaks through in the most distracting of ways. Banks is fair, and Jamie Bell is acceptable as Joey without really stealing his scenes. It is hard to see him as a tough guy, however, and whoever thought that casting Genesis Rodriguez as his girlfriend would pass without wondering how a guy like Joey would stand even the slightest chance made a massive error of judgement. Minor characters are shuffled in and out in such a way that the audience knows what their role will be in moving the plot forward, and none really inspires.
To describe a film as competent is to damn it with faint praise, but it would be folly to go any further in the case of Man on a Ledge. It is competent, however, and just long enough to not overstay its welcome. Director Asger Leth must have known he was helming a cookie-cutter thriller, and brings it in at just on 100 minutes, which is more than enough. Although there are no surprises, Man on a Ledge would be adequate Friday night dvd fare, but little more.Rating: