Man on a Ledge is often preposterous, and its plot twists do not always make sense. It's neither particularly original nor especially memorable, but the movie is entertaining for 102 minutes. After leaving prison, Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) heads to New York City's Roosevelt Hotel, where he climbs out a window and stands on a narrow ledge overlooking the city. As expected, there is more to the story than just a suicidal ex-con, and Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell and Ed Harris all get involved in the plot. Slick, quick and just dumb enough to be fun, Man on a Ledge is passable escapist entertainment.
It's hard to describe much of Man on a Ledge without spoiling the plot. Cassidy spent time in prison for stealing a diamond from wealthy businessman David Englander (Harris), and his high-altitude demonstration is meant as a proclamation of his innocence. Cassidy asks for boozy negotiator Lydia Mercer (Banks), who arrives with a fresh hangover to get Cassidy off the ledge. Cassidy's brother, Joey (Bell), and Joey's girlfriend, Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), also work to exonerate Cassidy.
Director Asger Leth (Ghosts of Cite Soleil) creates a slick, fast-paced thriller that begins to crumble if analyzed too closely. Much of the run-around takes Man on a Ledge from a thriller to a heist movie, and Leth doesn't so much develop the plot twists as hit the audience over the head with developments and quickly move on. The film also suffers to find its identity, and the genre fusion is not exactly handled gracefully. If Man on a Ledge was graded on pure plausibility, it would definitely flunk. Although the movie's revelations are not always logical, it generally stays a step or two ahead of the audience.
The filmmakers actually put Worthington on a ledge outside an upper-story guestroom at the Roosevelt, and this effort pays off. Panoramic shots of the Manhattan skyline and dizzying swoops over the pedestrian-filled street below look great, and seeing Worthington perched high above the crowd really sells the action. What Joey and Angie get up to is pretty formulaic, but at least Bell has a tendency to make mediocre material seem better than it is (i.e. Jumper).
Worthington continues to play the stoic everyman, but his acting has improved a lot since his breakout in Terminator: Salvation. Harris is a suave, heartless bastard here, and, while his character is not especially deep, at least he gets the chance to yell at a few people. Banks has an interesting role, and she seems annoyed throughout Man on a Ledge, as if she was actually hungover during filming. I kind of liked her ne'er-do-well approach to hostage negotiation, and she practically dares Cassidy to take the leap. Man on a Ledge is not among the best New York City-set thrillers, but it's intriguing enough to warrant a rental.
The 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer from Summit Entertainment is expectedly excellent for this recently released film. Man on a Ledge impresses with its excellent aerial shots and tight close-ups on the outdoor ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel, and the high-def image excels during both. Detail is excellent, from the rough stone of the hotel's exterior to the diverse crowd gathered below on the street. Colors are nicely saturated, and blacks are deep and inky. There is a nice layer of grain in the image, and skin tones are spot-on. I noticed no problems with aliasing or noise reduction.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack expertly replicates the dialogue and distant crowd noise of the film's outdoor scenes, and the mix creates an immersive aural environment. Dialogue is always clear, and ambient effects surround the viewer, from noise inside the hotel to the street sounds below. Action effects are similarly impressive, and the track's range and clarity are excellent, meaning quiet scenes are just as audible as action bits. The score is appropriately balanced, and the track calls upon the LFE and surround speakers throughout. A Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital track is available, as are English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
In The Ledge (15:17/HD), viewers get a glimpse of how filmmakers put Worthington on a ledge overlooking a busy New York City street. The crew actually built on to the roof of the hotel to create a safe working environment from which they could hang the actors. The cast and crew discuss shooting on location, as well as the movie's story and action. The only other extra is the film's Theatrical Trailer with Commentary by Elizabeth Banks (2:32/HD). In this odd segment, Banks provides somewhat sardonic commentary over the film's trailer, remarking that Worthington and Harris are "sexy" and indicating when she is using her "serious voice." Perhaps Banks didn't fall in love with the film?
Sam Worthington paces an outdoor ledge at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, high above the busy street below, to proclaim his innocence after serving time for a diamond heist. Elizabeth Banks is the police negotiator sent to talk him down, and discovers things are not what they seem. Slick and often preposterous, Man on a Ledge has little replay value, but is decent escapist entertainment. Rent It.
William lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.