DIR: Asger Leth • WRI: Pablo F. Fenjves • PRO: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mark Vahradian • DOP: Paul Cameron • ED: Kevin Stitt • DES: Alec Hammond • Cast: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell
Man on a Ledge has a different take on the standard heist movie format. Sam Worthington plays an ex-cop who breaks out of prison maintaining that he was framed by a diamond seller and an all round heartless capitalist (Ed Harris). After his escape, he checks into a Manhattan hotel and climbs out on to the ledge threatening suicide. We soon learn that this is a rouse to distract the city from his brother and his girlfriend who are attempting to steal a diamond from Harris’s building across the road.
This is an interesting premise but the plot doesn’t have many surprises. The twists are revealed quickly and it doesn’t take long before we are told who wronged who. There’s a lot of background information needed to tell the story as the entire plot derives from events in the past. When we do get background information about the characters it is heavy handed and we don’t really get to know them. It was pleasing to see the negotiator played by a female (Elizabeth Banks) and watching her battle against the man’s world is enjoyable. Sam Worthington and Ed Harris play out their roles well (even though Worthington does lose his American accent at particularly stressful times on the ledge) but ultimately their characters are quite two dimensional. The brother (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) are an attempt to bring comic relief from the intensity of the ledge but this doesn’t work because their dialogue falls flat. In particular, the girlfriend character is truly tiresome. To be fair, the actress does not have much to work with and the purpose of her role is pretty clear with excessive shots of her breasts and a scene dedicated to her changing into a PVC outfit. The funny moments in the film arise from the depiction of media and the reaction from the enthusiastic and cynical New Yorkers who look on.
Faults with the characters and plot aside, the film does look impressive. There are some truly nerve-wracking moments that will have you reeling if you are uneasy with heights. The camera is constantly veering up and around the building and this really creates the sensation for the audience (without the need for 3D). The dramatic tension comes from this rather than the storyline but is impressive enough to make the film an enjoyable watch.
Soracha Pelan Ó Treasaigh
Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Man on a Ledge is released on 3rd February 2012