Man on a Ledge

Either I’m softening a little, or the world is coming to an end, because I’m about to write something I never thought I’d write about any movie.

Man on a Ledge should have been shot in 3D.

Whew.

Much of the film is vertigo-inducing, sweeping shots from ground level up to the 21st story of New York’s Roosevelt Hotel, where Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is camped out… on a ledge.

Then there are the shots where Nick is up on the ledge, and then the camera swoops over his head and looks down.

There’s plenty of other things that happen, sure, but when first-time director Asger Leth spends so much of a movie stuffing it full of gimmicks, you would think he’d include the one that could actually make the movie memorable.

Man on a Ledge gets underway with Cassidy walking into his hotel room, scribbling a quick note, and then climbing out the window. In a matter of seconds (a little too quick, I’d venture), he’s spotted… and then even quicker, SWAT, fire, police, and rescue are at the scene, the streets are closed, and news crews are reporting live.

Through flashbacks we learn Cassidy is an ex-cop who is now serving 25 years in Sing Sing. We then see him escape and makes his way to a storage unit, where a change of clothes and some cash are waiting. And then it’s on to the hotel. Along with the drama on the ledge, Cassidy’s brother Joey and his girlfriend are breaking into a building across the street, owned by cliché-evil David Englander (an oddly gaunt Ed Harris).

Screenwriter Pablo Fenjves (best known for ghost-writing O.J. Simpson’s ‘version’ of the 1994 murders, If I Did It) had a decent idea here– though it takes quite a while to actually get to it; it’s not until an hour into the movie that we learn what exactly is going on.

Of course the story lines comes together, and of course (with the movie’s poster proclaiming it in big, bold letters) we know that Cassidy is innocent, and we can therefore safely assume that everything gets tied up with a neat little bow. It does.

There are plenty of moments that will suck you into the action, and the performances by Worthington and by Elizabeth Banks as the hostage negotiator are solid, but Man on a Ledge suffers from trying to do too much and not doing any of them really well. And Kyra Sedgwick is completely wasted in a lampoonish role as a news reporter.

There’s suspense, action, and even a little comedy (in the form of Joey and his lingerie-clad companion), but it all comes crashing down during the too-much-too-fast ending.

Leth certainly has skills, and but next time he should just take the leap and try something a little more innovative.

3/5 stars