The American film industry has been plagued with so many heists movies, that it sometimes physically pains me to see a trailer for a film of that genre. It’s a genre that only works for a select group of people, most notably Steven Soderbergh in the Ocean’s movies, and a few others that I honestly can’t even recall right now, but when I saw the preview for Man on a Ledge, to be perfectly frank, I was hooked. The premise, admittedly, was rehashed and redone a million times over, but the way that it was presented was strikingly fresh.
Man on a Ledge follows Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), an escaped convict who checks into a New York City hotel, with a room on the building’s twenty-first floor. He then climbs out of the window, onto a ledge, garnering the attention of some passersby which soon turns into a large crowd complete with ambulances, cop cars, and news vans. The man in charge of getting Cassidy safely back into the hotel is Detective Jack Dougherty (Ed Burns), but Cassidy doesn’t want him talking him through the ordeal. He wants the infamous Detective Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), who was once the department’s best until she let a rookie cop jump off the Brooklyn Bridge a month prior.
The whole thing seems rather routine by New York’s standards, but sometimes things aren’t exactly what they seem. Cassidy, who’s an ex-cop, was jailed for the robbery of a $40 million dollar diamond that belonged to David Englander (Ed Harris), one of the city’s most well known and richest businessmen. Cassidy insists that he’s innocent and the only way he can prove it, is if his brother Joey (Jamie Bell), and his girlfriend, Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), are able to get into Englander’s safe, retrieve the diamond, and make it out without a trace.
Written and directed by first time feature filmmakers Pablo F. Fenjves and Asger Leth, respectively, Man on a Ledge is a simply told film with an amazing cast that really have no business being there. Granted, the real purpose of the film is to serve as an exciting distraction from our regular lives, offering a halfway decent story and some predictable twists. In that respect, Man on a Ledge does what it’s supposed to, but not much more.
With some extremely cheesy writing and a sad attempt at a New York accent from Elizabeth Banks, the film is rather a caricature of what it could have been, hinting at greatness with the likes of Ed Harris turning in a great performance, as well as rather inspired performances by Sam Worthington and especially Jamie Bell, who serves as both the comedic relief and the nail biting action hero of this flick.
With that being said, Man on a Ledge does get rather exciting in its last 20 minutes, taking Cassidy off the ledge and into what is possibly the most dangerous places for him to be. The climax of the movie also gives the viewer some pretty decent twists that keep you on your toes for the remainder of the running time, but I just wished that the film’s first 80 minutes could have been as involving.