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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Man on a Ledge | Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris, Anthony Mackie, Jamie Bell | Review

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Man On A Ledge

Desperate times calls for desperate measures.  Take for instance this film's protagonist, the so-called Man on A Ledge played by Sam Worthington (Avatar, The Debt). The story begins as he checks into a room on the 21st floor of the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan under an assumed name, then writes a suicide note, orders what appears to be his last meal, before climbing out the window and positioning himself on the ledge while crowds of people gather on the sidewalk below pointing up and urging him to jump.

It is said that suicide threats are a call for help and it soon becomes clear that there is a method for this guy's madness. In other words, there is more than meets the eye. So, who is this potential jumper and what is his story?

In flashbacks, we discover, the mystery man is Nick Cassidy, an ex cop, that earlier escaped from Sing Sing prison in upstate New York where he was to serve 25 years for a crime he said he didn't commit.

Detective Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns) is the first to arrive on the scene but Nick,  insists on talking to the only person he says he can trust, NYPD negotiator/psychologist Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks, giving it her best) who has her own back story, one that Nick knows all about.  The prior month she failed to stop another man from jumping to his death. Guilt ridden, she doesn't want to feel  responsible for once again not getting her job done.

The question is, how does putting himself in this dangerous situation help Nick's cause?  Having Lydia spend time trying to talk him into coming inside is just one part of Nick's elaborate plan to divert the attention of the police and the city as he communicates by earphone with his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey's sexy Latina girlfriend/partner in crime Angie (Genesis Rodriguez,  obviously hired because of the way she overflows her push up bra) who are working to pull off a mission impossible type heist in a nearby building that involves crawling through air shafts, hanging in mid-air from elevator shafts, dangling from ceilings, outsmarting the high tech security alarm system and engaging in some silly banter. Their mission, which they chose to accept (sorry, but it is such an obvious MIP rip off) is to recover a huge diamond worth millions,  evidence Nick needs to prove his innocence and that he was set up, for reasons I won't divulge, by David Englander (an aged, but fit Ed Harris, in slimy villain mode) a scrupulous real estate tycoon.

Other sideline characters include a miscast Kyra Sedgwick in a small role as Suzi Morales (her rolling r's are laughable), a Hispanic TV news reporter on the ground covering the scene, and Anthony Mackie as Mike Ackerman, Nick's former partner/best friend.

Without a doubt, Pablo F. Fenjves' screenplay is far fetched, implausible and filled with contrivances and plot twists that go beyond believability. Yet, in his first feature film debut, Danish director Asger Leth (the documentary"Ghosts of Cité Soleil)  does create a continuous level of high tension and suspense, which is a good thing.  The outdoor ledge scenes were not filmed on a set, but actually on location on the hotel's ledge, high above the ground, and the camera angles made me feel like I was right there with Worthington eyeing the long drop below.  As a person who is terrified of heights, that in itself, was enough of a thrill to keep me on the ledge, I mean edge of my seat.

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