Thursday, February 09, 2012

MAN ON A LEDGE - Preposterous Heist Flick

MAN ON A LEDGE (crime thriller)
Cast: Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Elizabeth Banks, Genesis Rodriguez, Edward Burns, Ed Harris, Anthony Mackie, Kyra Sedgwick and William Sadler 
Director: Asger Leth
Screenplay: Pablo F. Fenjves
Time: 102 mins
Rating: *  *  (out of 4)

Sam Worthington - the Man On A Ledge

PREAMBLE: Man On A Ledge reminds me of a similar silly title, Snakes On A Plane. Well, this one is not such a no-brainer as Snakes On A Plane, but it is just as badly contrived.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) checks into the Manhattan Roosevelt Hotel one morning, orders a lobster meal, and promptly fulfills the film's high-concept promise by climbing out the window. Common sense dictates that he won't jump (at least not so early in the movie), but the vertigo effect is exploited by the film-makers. As TV crews and on-lookers swarm in the streets below, the NYPD arrive and officer Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), the professional negotiator tries to coax Nick back off the ledge.

 Elizabeth Banks and Worthington

The real deal is that Nick, an ex-cop, is creating a distraction (just like in the Die Hard films). A flashback to one month earlier shows Nick's daring escape from prison, after being convicted of stealing a huge Monarch diamond from tycoon David Englander (Ed Harris). Nick wants to clear his name, and this suicide attempt is an elaborate diversion, buying time while his brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), and Joey's girlfriend, Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), break into Englander's vault and prove the jewel never went missing in the first place.

Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodrigue
HITS & MISSES: In the first half, the movie looks great with all the fast action and glib humour we have come to expect of a well-choreographed heist movie. Notice that I said 'well-choreographed' because nowhere in the film do we get the feeling that the protagonist and his cahorts are in any real danger. While each scene helps to advance the plot, it is more to grab our attention and provide eye candy than to make sense - as in the sequences in which a scantily-clad Rodriguez slides her way down an air shaft.

The other members of the cast do what they are paid to do, including Kyra Sedgwick's feisty turn as a bitchy TV reporter. I don't mind a script that requires us to suspend disbelief in order to follow the plot, I am always game enough to overlook a few idiosyncrasies. However, the ending here is so full of crap that it insults our intelligence. I bet this is gonna haunt first-time feature film director Asger Leth in time to come.

THE LOWDOWN: A see-and-forget flick.


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