After a disappointing movie year in 2011, when the best action film might have been (gasp) “Harry Potter,” the trailer for “Man on a Ledge” led many to believe that the action-movie drought was about to end.
One of the first big thrillers of the year, “Man on a Ledge,” tries to deliver stock thrills in the form of a slightly modified typical action plot. The film centers around Nick Cassidy (played by Sam Worthington) who threatens to commit suicide while his team steals a $40 billion diamond.
Although action movies centered around bank robberies have been done to death, “Man on a Ledge” breaks the mold through a twist on “standard” plot: The main strategy of the heist is a faked suicide by the protagonist.
Nick Cassidy is an innocent escaped convict who aims to clear his name.Meanwhile, negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) attempts to persuade him not to jump. Worthington’s performance is thrilling, and his edgy character captivates with restless and erratic behavior. Worthington’s character strikes a perfect balance between distress and confidence, and he is able to skillfully direct the robbery while reflecting on his past.
Banks’s performance is also captivating, with a backstory that makes the scene on the “ledge” dramatic as well as thrilling. The cinematography is breathtaking and sometimes frightening. The multiple camera angles and special effects give Cassidy’s position on the ledge a frighteningly realistic feel; it isn’t rare for the camera to take a quick peek over the side of the building.
However, the action-packed scenes on the ledge are not backed by any real suspense in other aspects of the film, and the actual scene of the robbery leaves much to be desired. The robbery is completed by Joey Cassidy (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), who fail to add any real suspense to the film.
The team breaks into the diamond vault without the use of any real technology.Compared to films like the “Ocean’s” series, the break-in lacks flash. Throughout the movie, the actual robbery scenes pale in comparison to the jarring action occurring on the ledge. In short, a man standing around was more exciting than the theft of a prized gem.
In all, “Man on a Ledge” seems to fit a very clear cookie-cutter mold. From the initial explosion break-in to the final scene, the film is often predictable. While it manages to provide all aspects necessary for an action film, it fails to innovate or impress in any way. The movie’s overall average nature is disappointing given the originally exciting premise.
Despite this trite action format and lousy critical reception (the film recieved a 23/100 on Rotten Tomato)the movie’s interesting premise still makes it worth a watch. Although perhaps it doesn’t justify the $12 theater price, it is definitely worth renting when it comes out on DVD.