Saturday 15 October 2022

Movie Review: Man On A Ledge (2012)

A dramatic thriller, Man On A Ledge is a wild-enough ride through a too-insane-to-matter plot.

Former police officer Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is serving prison time for stealing and fragmenting a large precious diamond, a crime he denies committing. He escapes, and a month later books a hotel room in Manhattan, writes a suicide note, and steps out onto the ledge. Detective Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns) is first on the scene, but Nick demands to talk with negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks). 

As the expected crowd and media hordes gather at street level, Nick's ex-partner Ackerman (Anthonie Mackie) and Sergeant Marcus (Titus Welliver) follow the drama with interest. They realize Nick's stunt is a distraction to allow his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey's girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) to infiltrate the vault of corrupt real estate tycoon David Englander (Ed Harris) and steal the diamond for real, proving Nick's innocence. But Englander has many police officers on his payroll, and is determined to hold onto the diamond.

Written by Pablo Fenjves and directed by Asger Leth, Man On A Ledge is a heist movie jazzed up with a needlessly complicated backstory, but also handsomely mounted with a sense of glib bravado. Whether with Nick on a ledge threatening an instant death or with Joey and Angie navigating Englander's alarm systems, the tension of a misstep is always near. Leth finds edgy perspectives and keeps his cameras moving despite the potentially static premise.

The visual gloss is necessary, because the actual plot is well past ludicrous. The holes are large and obvious, starting with not a single police officer in New York recognizing the supposedly notorious Nick, who is keen to buy time by refusing to disclose his identity. A large building rooftop explosion attracts no attention, then Joey and Angie are clever enough to defeat the city's most elaborate security system, but need to radio Nick - on that ledge - to recognize a heat detector. 

The performances are of the adequate variety. Elizabeth Banks benefits from the most depth as her character deals with the trauma of a previous failed negotiation and is now forced to re-test her instincts. Ed Harris phones in a bad guy performance and does not look healthy doing it. 

As typically happens with thrillers tethered to one location, Fenjves starts to clutch at flimsy reasons to keep Nick suspended in place, and it's a relief when he finally abandons the jumper pretense and swings into action during the suitably chaotic climax. Man On A Ledge offers a good view, as long as the details are left unscrutinized.

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