Posts tagged Man on a Ledge
With a title like “Man on a Ledge,” you’re probably wondering, “Is there actually a man standing on a ledge?” The answer is yes, so thankfully director Asger Leth isn’t just teasing us. However the movie’s lazy name embodies the unenthusiastic approach both the actors and filmmakers took to creating this run-of-the-mill thriller.
The film’s premise is initially promising, but quickly turns ridiculous: Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is an ex-cop wrongfully imprisoned for a diamond heist. His accuser is a businessman David Englander (Ed Harris), who asserts that Cassidy cut up his giant diamond into thousands of untraceable pieces; an implausible crime for a working-class guy.
For us to even accept that accusation held up in court is just plain silly, given the complete lack of evidence. But this far-fetched idea is one of many, that “Man on a Ledge” expects you to buy.
Using his smarts, Nick busts out of prison with a plan to clear his name. He checks into a hotel in New York City, and then climbs onto a ledge of the building. Of course he captures the attention of the police, who arrive to try to talk him down.
This particular sequence of the film is the most exciting, since the ominous music and impending knowledge that Nick’s life is in jeopardy, make you incredibly uneasy. Then sadly, Leth kills all the energy by shifting into a flashback, in a rare instance when non-linear storytelling hurts more than it helps.
Nick requests that they bring in a police negotiator named Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), to work with him. With her groggy wake-up call, and a television news blurb about her previous failure to save a jumper, we get a flimsy explanation of why Mercer is damaged and untrusting like Nick.
Two more of the ludicrous things “Man on a Ledge” tries to sell, come at this juncture. First, the police don’t actually recognize Nick at first. Even though he’s an ex-cop AND a fugitive from the law, it still takes them time to identify him? Yeah, right.
Second, Nick’s stunt is really a ruse, so that his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) can recover proof of Englander’s lies from his high tech vault. They plant explosives, repel down an elevator shaft, dodge cameras, and disable infrared sensors.
No matter how well-rehearsed you are, there is no way you could pull that off without a criminal past. But since the writer Pablo F. Fenjves realized this, he tried hilariously to justify their success with a line of dialogue where Angie admits she used to “break into people’s houses as a teenager and try on clothes.”
Aside from the unbelievable events that “Man on a Ledge,” assumes that you’ll tolerate, the film also suffers from weak performances. Sam Worthington is fine as Nick Cassidy, providing sufficient conviction that he’s innocent but not enough vulnerability to gain sympathy from the viewer. The most disappointing perhaps, is the normally talented Elizabeth Banks, who is very flat and insincere as Lydia Mercer. She doesn’t convince you that she’s a hardened cop or that she’s that emotionally distraught by her trials.
As you watch “Man on a Ledge,” the concept of an ex-cop working together with a negotiator to clear his name, starts to remind you of another much better film: “The Negotiator.” If Samuel L. Jackson’s character in that movie, knew about “Man on a Ledge,” trying to copy him, he’d probably scream, “It didn’t work! I’m still alive, mother****er!”
My Grade: C-
Whether you’re into television junkie or a film nerd, you probably know Elizabeth Banks. In television the actress has had memorable turns on “30 Rock” and “Scrubs,” while her film credits include a mixture of comedic and serious efforts like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “The Next Three Days.”
This week, in the thriller “Man on a Ledge,” Banks plays a police negotiator named Lydia Mercer. When a disgraced ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) climbs up on a New York hotel threatening to jump, Mercer is tasked with talking him down. What she doesn’t know is that the stunt is merely a smokescreen to hide his true plan. Certain shady characters discover his motives, so they set attempt to stop Nick, causing chaos to ensue.
Recently I had the chance to sit down for a roundtable interview with Banks about the movie. Below are some highlights of the conversation.
Q: One of the cool things about your character in this movie is that she’s a “police officer” and not a “police woman.” There’s not anything mentioned about her being a woman in the movie. Was that important to you to just play a character where it didn’t matter?