REVIEW: Man on a Ledge

5 12 2012

I think a more appropriate name for “Man on a Ledge” might have been “Baby’s First Thriller.”  By that, I do not mean that you should go show this film to your infant.  Rather, I am making a statement on how rudimentary and textbook Asger Leth’s film is.

His color-by-numbers genre pic is not the worst thing in the world to watch.  There are plenty of predictably thrilling instances where the action heats up and the plot begins to sizzle.  But it’s just so unambitious, reaching for all the buttons that so many better filmmakers have already pushed to death.

Even though I can’t think of any movie that shares the specific plot of “Man on a Ledge,” it felt nonetheless familiar and banal.  Sam Worthington’s Nick Cassidy goes and stands on a ledge and puts on a show for a captive audience in the streets of New York City.  He’s  left to be talked down by archetypical police officer haunted by guilt of a prior incident, here played by Elizabeth Banks.

Meanwhile, a giant diamond heist occurs with Nick’s brother Joey and girfriend Angie (Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez) inside the building across the street to prove his innocence.  And of course, the greed of the big bad capitalist, played by the menacingly frightening Ed Harris!  Both plots are interesting enough to keep our eyes on the screen, but neither really captivate at the level we have come to expect from say, a Soderbergh thriller.  It does what it needs to do and nothing more.

And if that’s all you want from a movie, then perhaps “Man on a Ledge” is the perfect background music to you doing chores around the house.  You don’t need to be paying too much attention to know what’s going on here.  Because after all, you know the narrative.

Ultimately, what I walked away from “Man on a Ledge” with was nothing about the story or the presentation.  To my surprise, it was that superb actors like Elizabeth Banks and Anthony Mackie were still being reduced to this kind of auto-piloted stock studio schedule filler crap.  Casting agents, please sit down with a copy of “People Like Us” and “The Hurt Locker.”  You will find Banks and Mackie, though not nominated for an Oscar (yet), are far above this type of movie.  Find them something suitable for their immense talents, please!  C+

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