"One that certainly requires a suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy..."
Man on a Ledge may be director Asger Leth's debut production, but the film itself is as formulaic and predictable as any other action thriller you'll see this year - and one that certainly requires a suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy.
Sam Worthington plays Nick Cassidy, a former cop and now fugitive threatening to take his life from the ledge of a New York building. At first the NYPD are unaware of who Nick is, but as soon as they learn of his identity, they seem to care as little for his life as he does, sending a SWAT team along to take him down, despite Nick being adamant that he was wrongly convicted for the crime he is now running away from.
Police psychologist and negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) is left with the task of persuading Nick not to jump, but he has other plans, simply using the stunt as a distraction whilst his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) use the lack of publicity and security to undertake one of the most prominent diamond heists of all time, yet with the intention of only stealing back a jewel Nick was alleged to have taken to prove his innocence.
It's undoubtedly an intriguing premise - similar to Phone Booth yet with a hidden agenda. You could argue that the film revels in conventionalism, yet Man on a Ledge feels extremely unrealistic and delusive, with far too many aspects to the plot and characters that simply make no sense.
Such nonsensicality is highlighted most greatly in the correlating storyline of the diamond heist, working against the window ledge scenes. Firstly, Angie is bearing so much cleavage it is quite distracting - and considering she is robbing a jewellers, it seems somewhat undignified and improbable. At one point she even strips down to her underwear, whilst in the building.
Yet such is the sentiment of this film; one of absurdity and fatuousness, where you could literally sit there picking holes throughout, but such an approach will only seek to worsen the film and allow no hope of enjoyment. It's simply not worth doing so, as Man on a Ledge is not attempting to be anything other than what it is, it's just a straight-forward entertaining thriller that occupies the viewers’ attention throughout, even if it does just feel like an elongated episode of CSI.
The scenes on the ledge are far more enjoyable than those of the robbery, as the relationship forming between Nick and Lydia is tangible, and watching the police force attempt to get this man off the ledge is riveting, as despite their disdain towards the fugitive, where a push would have been favourable, with crowds growing and news stations broadcasting, a more civilised approach is needed.
Despite enjoying the ledge sequences, Worthington's performance leaves a fair amount to be desired as is the case with the majority of the cast, overplaying their roles greatly. However, such amplified and overstated performances suit the nature of the picture, aligning succinctly with the suspenseful soundtrack and general absurdity of the plot.
The dialogue is the greatest example of this, with a host of supposedly slick and cool one-liners, yet instead sounding contrived and unnatural, especially evident during the robbery where there is some horribly uncomfortable banter between Joey and Angie about past relationships and sex, at points where it's quite literally a life or death situation, for both themselves and Nick.
Man on a Ledge is simply an easy-target for critique and cynicism, yet despite such inanity throughout, the bottom line is that it is entirely enjoyable viewing and I'd be a liar if I didn't say I was completely captivated as to how it would conclude. But that doesn't excuse what is a quite a substandard debut for Leth, lacking in originality and general quality. Now I'm no advocate of suicide, but perhaps it may have been of benefit to us all had the Man on the Ledge just jumped.