It’s one thing for a movie to ask you to suspend disbelief and another for it to ask you to suspend all logic. Though action films and thrillers regularly break the laws of physics and biology, strong characters and story will allow you go along with them for the sake of diversion. Man on a Ledge, however, includes far too many logical leaps, and lacks any interesting elements, resulting in an asinine, poor excuse for entertainment.
The movie begins as Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) rents a hotel room in New York City, takes a step out of his window on to a ledge, and threatens to end his own life. But while the cops and New York citizens all think that Nick is threatening suicide, the truth is that he is just a decoy. A former cop, Nick was framed and arrested for stealing a wealthy businessman’s (Ed Harris) precious diamond and by walking out on the ledge has kick-started a plan to prove his own innocence. Nick’s brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), and the brother’s girlfriend, Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), are pilfering the very same jewel that Nick supposedly stole.
While most heist films are built on the clever ways in which the main characters are able to overcome obstacles and various security devices, Nick, Joey and Angie's plan is extraordinarily dumb. From their plan to trick the surveillance cameras by sliding a photograph over the lens (when the guard is conveniently looking away) to the fact that breaking and entering is always a crime (even if you’re doing it to prove your own innocence), the plot of the movie makes no sense and constantly has the audience questioning the intelligence of the characters. The reality is that if anyone were to try to reenact this exact crime in real life it would take the cops about 15 minutes to figure out what was going on and haul all of the criminals to jail.
Man on a Ledge is a thriller completely devoid of thrills, as the viewers never get the sense that the heist may fail or that Nick is in any real danger. Not helping is Asger Leth’s direction. While you’d think a film about a man on a ledge would occasionally try to induce vertigo or mess with the acrophobics watching the film, the movie might as well be set five feet above the ground for the number of times that it uses the high elevation to elicit any kind of reaction. Scenes outside of the hotel are constantly shot from the same angle, with Worthington huddled against the stone face of the building and a cop occasionally leaning out the window to talk to him. Eventually the repetition and tedium of the composition wears you down to the point that even when things do get mildly interesting in the plot it all still looks the same.
Though this is supposed to be Nick’s revenge, he is completely dull and neutralized by the simple fact that he is stuck on a ledge. He is involved with the heist, as he does occasionally speak to his teammates through a radio in his collar, but he’s not calling the plays or giving them precise directions, just checking in on progress. The real action is happening with Joey and Angie, but they have no real stake in the situation other than their loyalty to Nick. He’s nothing more than what the title says he is. And we're only told about the bad stuff that Harris's character does, so that without third-person exposition, you'd think he was just an ordinary rich guy who owns a diamond and yells a lot. You can’t cheer for the hero because he’s not doing anything and you can’t root against the villain because he’s so passive. So who cares?
The fact that Pablo F. Fenjves’ script went through so many hands without the logical fallacies being pointed out and fixed is nothing short of astonishing. The supporting cast, which includes great names like Edward Burns, Kyra Sedgwick, Anthony Mackie, William Sadler and Titus Welliver, is completely wasted, as most of them just spend their time either standing in a hotel room or standing on the New York streets. I’m sure Man on a Ledge sounded interesting when it was first pitched, but the result is garbage.
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