Man on a Ledge
A Questionable but Fun Thriller

What if no one saw him?  That was the first question that came to mind as I settled in to watch the new thriller Man on a Ledge.  It was only seconds after the man walked out onto the ledge high above the New York City streets that a woman down below looked up and screamed, alerting the entire block to his presence.  It’s something the man was counting on, as he wants to leverage his possible suicide into proving his innocence, and his plan relies a lot on timing. But what if that lady didn’t look up?  Would he just sit there all day until somebody looked up?  Would he whistle or yell to get their attention?  These are exactly the kind of questions that can distract an audience from a movie like this, but if you are willing to let these things alone and just go with it, you are sure to be thoroughly entertained for a good hour and a half.

The man on the ledge is Nick Cassidy, an ex-cop who was convicted of stealing a priceless diamond from a wealthy businessman named David Englander.  Nick has always maintained that he is innocent, but he just lost his final appeal and is out of options.  In desperation, Nick takes advantage of being released from prison for his father’s funeral and escapes from custody.  Using false identification, he gets a room in a the hotel tower that just so happens to be owned by Englander and is also located directly across the street from the vault where Cassidy expects the man still has and keeps the diamond.

While the cops and the hundreds of citizens that have gathered below believe Nick is just a desperate man contemplating throwing it all away, Nick has actually developed a calculated plan to actually steal the diamond (“for the first time”) and prove that he was falsely accused.  While Nick is keeping everyone busy, his brother and his girlfriend are working their way through Englander’s security.

Sam Worthington as Nick in Man on a LedgeWith its hero threatening suicide throughout the film, Man on a Ledge could have easily aimed for a more serious tone, but that might have been a disaster.  Fortunately, director Asger Leth and screenwriter Pablo F. Fenjves never take their movie too seriously and the result is a movie that is just plain fun.  It’s exactly what we want to pass the time on a cold January evening.

It really helps that the movie has a fun and appealing cast.  Sam Worthington continues to be an actor who can capture our attention as Nick, while Jamie Bell gets the fun role of being the brother who gets to pull off the actual diamond heist along with his firecracker girlfriend Genesis Rodriguez.  Elizabeth Banks continues to prove that she can play any kind of role as the negotiator who tries to talk Nick down, and Ed Harris once again makes for an excellent villain.

As the movie continues there are more and more questions the audience members may find themselves asking:  How did Nick and his brother and a surprising third party plan this elaborate heist while he was in a prison cell?  Why does a young woman show up for a diamond heist in a shirt that barely covers her breasts?  Why does Kyra Sedgwick’s reporter Suzie Morales emphasize her last name so strongly?  Why doesn’t Anthony Mackie get bigger roles? Is he really going to jump from the building roof to tackle his adversary walking on the ground several floors below?  No, Nick doesn’t quite perform that last one, but the way this movie was going I was seriously questioning whether that was going to happen.

Ultimately, the only question that needs an answer is this: did I have fun?  The answer is a definite yes.

Man on a Ledge is rated PG-13 for “violence and strong language.”  I don’t really have anything to add as that says it all.  Definitely no need for a higher rating as this movie is aimed to bring in a broad audience.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Man on a Ledge