Movie Review: Man on a Ledge

Starring: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell
Directed By: Asger Leth
Written By: Pablo F. Fenjves
Summit, 2012
PG-13; 102 min
2 stars (out of 5)


Hey! It turns out Ed Harris is still alive! Except he's starting to look a bit like the skeletal version of Professor Waxflatter in Elizabeth's horrific hallucination in Young Sherlock Holmes. (Yes, I realize that's an oddly specific comparison.)

Fact is, I typically enjoy heist movies. What, you didn't know Man on a Ledge is a heist movie? You thought it was just about Sam Worthington standing on a ledge for about 90 minutes? Well, it is that, but the reason he's standing on the ledge (and I'm not giving away anything the trailer didn't) is to distract people from the theft his brother and his brother's girlfriend are enacting in a building across the street. It's kind of a cool setup, but the end result was unfortunately lackluster.

For one, I like my heists to be a bit more fun than this. Think Ocean's 11, right? Or even Sneakers? Yet here the banter between Joey and Angie (that would be the brother and girlfriend) is not remotely amusing. And Sam Worthington is too busy standing on a ledge to be good for many yucks.

Barring humor, a heist film should have some tension. Ideally, it will have humor and tension, but at least one of these is necessary to make it even partly satisfactory. Alas, Man on a Ledge is not tense at all. In fact, it just sort of drags. I'm not sure if maybe they were trying to make the whole thing seem real time, but 24 it wasn't. At 102 minutes, Man on a Ledge isn't a particularly long film, and yet it feels way too long nonetheless. Always a bad sign.

The core story of corrupt cops and the shunned female officer (Banks) is so rote the writer and actors don't bother to explore it, meaning the characters are only as dimensional as the paper they'd originally been written on. Harris, as the villain, spends his little bit of screen time snarling—just to make sure you know he's really bad. Although one look at his forehead would probably have convinced us. Meanwhile, all the turncoat cops tip their hands early on, making them easy to pick out, so that the viewer is simply waiting for the inevitable. Which is, of course, bad cops versus good cops and a showdown with Ed Harris on a rooftop. After all, you can't call it Man on a Ledge and not have someone go over.

My advice: go find something clever to watch. The "twists" in Man on a Ledge don't even count as such; any educated viewer can see each of them coming as clearly as looking out an open window.

. . . Hey, is that Sam Worthington?

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