My favourite part of my Man on a Ledge experience was that I knew absolutely nothing about the film except that Sam Worthington would be on a ledge. In this age of the overly-informed, it feels like every movie we see we know the story in advance, we know the cast, we’ve seen the plot outline in the trailer and we can usually figure out the rest. For the most part, I’ve stopped reading film news and I’ve stopped watching trailers, and it’s thanks to this that a movie like Man on a Ledge can reach my eyes completely free of expectation or even awareness. This can definitely make for a more interesting cinema experience as the plot unravels to genuine surprise. I haven’t seen the trailer for this, but I’d imagine the first half of the movie is in there.
So, there’s this guy on a ledge. He’s a former cop turned convict who is threatening to kill himself unless he’s proven innocent. The film then unravels into a surprising mix between a close-quarters intense thriller movie and a heist flick. On the ledge side, we have Worthington, who does a fine job of the put-upon victim and Elizabeth Banks, who feels completely miscast as the hard-edged negotiator with a heart of gold and a tragic past (the character is as bad as that sounds).
On the other hand you have Jamie Bell and his girlfriend’s amateur Ocean’s 11 job, which does offer a few good moments and the odd chuckle. Backing them up is the strangest supporting cast I’ve seen in ages: the smoke monster from Lost, william sadler, yer wan off Closer, that guy and an emaciated Ed Harris, knawing on the scenery.
Man on a Ledge has problems that include textbook cliches, woeful dialogue and an absolutely farcical final act, but it’s perfectly sufficient as a fun, quick, mindless distraction. Just don’t think too long on the plausibility of any of it, or the film (and your mind) will unravel.