Cinema Review – Man on a Ledge


Police negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) tries to talk a man down from a New York rooftop, but what she doesn’t realise is that the suicide threat is a ruse to cover up a diamond heist being carried out across the street.

Man on a Ledge is the latest in an admittedly-not-very-long line of heist movies to emerge from Hollywood recently. There is nothing quite like a heist movie when it is done well, but the film is already being slaughtered by critics. The thing is; it’s not as bad as everyone is saying.

Ex cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) was framed and sent to prison for allegedly stealing a diamond worth $40 million. In his two years in Sing Sing, Cassidy works on escaping from prison and clearing his name. While he stands on a ledge of a New York hotel he diverts attention from the real story; his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) are attempting to steal the $40 million diamond… For the first time.

It is true that none of the characters on the film have a huge amount of depth; Sam Worthington as Nick Cassidy plays a smart guy who is playing the game from all sides, but he gives up his tale of woe too easily. Also, it never feels as though he is actually going to jump, so how Elizabeth Banks’s character believed him – even to begin with – is stretching disbelief a little. Speaking of Elizabeth Banks, Lydia Mercer is perhaps the character with the most emotional back-story. She tried to save a man from jumping off a bridge just a month earlier, and when she failed it destroyed her. Mercer is obviously trying to redeem herself for her earlier mistakes, but projects too much of her own emotion on to Cassidy, thereby allowing him to manipulate her.

Jamie Bell manages quite well with the American accent, and he and Genesis Rodriguez provide a little comic relief as the jewel thieves. The characters may be clichéd and obvious, but they have little moments where they mess up on ropes, fall over and generally are not as smooth as the Ocean’s Eleven gang, which makes them a little more relatable. Why Angie decided to wear what is probably the most impractical underwear for a heist ever is beyond comprehension, however… Oh, she looked good in it? Right.

This is the first film that director Asger Leth has helmed on his own, and he does a pretty good job of it. The script lets him down in paces as back-stories are not fleshed out, and everything is resolved a little too easily, but Leth knows when to build the tension and does it well.

In all, Man on a Ledge does exactly what it says it will; there is a man, he is on a ledge and the question is whether he will jump or not. Disbelief may need to be suspended a little too high for a film with such an obvious pay off, but there is enough in the film to keep the audience entertained. The story may not be the most original of recent years, but it makes for an enjoyable watch and a crowd-pleasing pay off. However, viewers with a fear of heights may not be as amused.

Rating: 3/5

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