Director: Asger Leth
Starring: Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Elizabeth Banks and Ed Harris
Man on a Ledge is one of those films where the more you spin away from it, the more you will disintegrate its plot, if you have enough memory of it to do so. This film could easily be dismissed as stupid (Which it is) however like a lot of seemingly stupid things, it is enjoyable. The fact that the idea of stealing the diamond you say you didn’t steal to prove that you didn’t sounds so ridiculous writing it now, but never did during the film, is a testament to how much the film kept me entertained and engaged. These are plot holes that you will enjoy finding, discussing and laughing about with friends after the film but will never effect your enjoyment of the film itself.
If you are somebody however who cannot let illogical and unrealistic plots fly, then you are best avoiding Man on a Ledge. This film at times requires a suspension of disbelief as high as the distance from the ledge to the ground. The whole struggle of the main character can in fact be seen as a metaphoric representation of the quality of the film itself. For its whole running time it is right on the edge of absurdity, however it is able to keep you gripped (Or on the ledge) long enough so that you don’t feel like jumping. Sam Worthington plays the lead role of Nick Cassidy and it is a typical Sam Worthington performance. He seems to, with films such as this and Avatar, be cornering a market for himself as the “everyman caught up in a crazy situation” guy. He also does the typical Sam Worthington line delivery; of every single word spoken being the most important words you will ever hear in your life.
Jamie Bell plays the brother of Sam Worthington (obviously) and it is he who is given what should be the more fun side of the narrative. While Worthington is stuck in one location, threatening to kill himself, Jamie Bell gets to rob a diamond with multiple gadgets and the obligatory female cast for her looks character. It is surprising then, just how much the heist element of the narrative is lacking. As a fan of the heist genre (Oceans Eleven, Italian Job, Inception etc.), I would have liked to see some of the build-up and preparation that went into the heist, even if it was just one montage. This would have helped us truly understand the emotional stakes behind the heist as well as help us believe a little bit more, that two people could pull off such a heist.
The heist element of the narrative leads to what is arguably the most frustrating of the films flaws when considered in the cold light of day...the missed opportunities. There is so much that could have been done with this concept, story and characters that weren’t done. For instance it could have been much more of a mystery whether this man was innocent or not, making us go through the case with the other characters and making the character of Nick Cassidy a much more engaging enigma, as he appeared to the people of New York City. The instant flashback to his prison break really seemed to suck the suspense out of the picture way too early, giving us a lot of back story that should have been saved for later in the story.
The seeming tension between the brothers that was apparent in this flashback scene however could have been built upon. While it was in a rather unsatisfactory manner, it would have been better if that rivalry was more genuine and factored in to the heist itself. The film is also at its best when it is at its simplest and given the flawed, at times cringe worthy nature of the heist section (The oh so witty banter between boyfriend and girlfriend was not always as oh so hilarious as intended) perhaps it would have been better if the heist element had been scrapped. The film would have been a lot braver and perhaps better if it was simply what it said on the tin and nothing more. Or as mentioned earlier, the heist element could have been improved, perhaps it would have been better to play more with the ideal that these two are not top thiefs and are instead bumbling through it.
The film does include some incredibly on the nose and blatant social commentary, with characters saying things such as, “Damn, economy” and “It’s always the little guy getting the punishment...I don’t see any rich guys in prison” While the social commentary is a good thing to include, it could have been handled in a more subtle and effective manner. The social commentary merely comes through a few lines of dialogue and then is ditched. A braver movie would have perhaps made a subtle link between us in the cinema and those watching on the streets, while also commenting on the economic situation in a manner that was less comical and forced and more organic and chilling.
Plot holes and missed opportunities are not the only flaws however, the film is also incredibly unoriginal and cliché. There is actually a line where somebody says, “What do you mean cut the red wire? THEY’RE ALL RED WIRES!” the whole script is comprised of trailer talk. Meaning that every line of dialogue feels like it was written for a trailer, stating the stakes and characters again and again, in terms of the dialogue nothing about the plot or character motivations is left to the imagination. All the male cop characters, sound exactly like all the clichéd male cop characters that have become stereotyped and mocked in other films.
Despite all these flaws, Man on a Ledge is not a terrible film. While such plot holes, unoriginality, clichés and missed opportunities could kill another film, Man on a Ledge never seems to crumble under the weight of them. It is a gripping, fun, entertaining, and Friday night popcorn watch piece of fun. It is the kind of film that if it comes to you through the form of on an airplane or TV, you will watch it, go with it and pass the time with it. Ed Harris is great as the villain of the piece, confirming the convention that all rich villains must smoke a big cigar. The pace is perfect, never slowing down and never losing the audience’s attention and the cast while certainly not optimal, are good enough to keep the film chugging along and just about sell most of the dialogue.
Overall Man on a Ledge is a fun watch. Despite its predictability, one of the twists got me and I never found myself bored by or objecting to any part of the film. While the third act gets too messy and convoluted for its own good, with multiple men with guns jumping on multiple ledges, this is an entertaining, disposable, popcorn movie. In fact it is a popcorn movie in the truest sense of the word. Like popcorn in a cinema, you sit there, you consume it without worries, dispose of it and afterwards have little memory of it, yet know you enjoyed it, yet are also aware there are much better things to eat out there...such as Big Macs.
It’s the first “guilty pleasure” film of the year, a lot of people will talk about how stupid and silly this movie is but few will admit that despite all the film’s flaws, that they enjoyed the experience of watching it.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister- Michael Dalton
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