Ever so often moviegoers are blessed to be presented with a film that seemingly appears from out of the blue; a movie that rattles the film industry with its sheer originality and spawns copycats for years to come. You know the type I’m talking about…you walk in with lowered expectations, and walking out you can’t help but start calling your friends to tell them that they have to check this flick out immediately.
Man on a Ledge is not that movie.
Yes, folks, it’s going to be that kind of review.
Don’t start commenting below about how I shouldn’t have walked in with heightened expectations or any of your other foolish attempts at logic. I only walked into Ledge expecting a good movie, the same as when I walk into any darkened theater, and what I received was 3 parts mediocre to 1 part preposterous.
Ledge is the story of Nick Cassidy (played by Avatar’s Sam Worthington), a good cop in a bad situation! He’s serving time in prison for allegedly stealing a diamond as big as a toddler’s fist from real estate tycoon David Englander (Ed Harris). At the beginning of the film we are told his last appeal has just fallen through, so Cassidy is looking at serving his full sentence without parole (because that happens to cop-first-time-offenders-of-larceny all the time). At his father’s funeral, he makes a daring escape, and quickly makes his way over to a high-rise Englander owns, walks out onto the 80th floor ledge, and threatens to jump.
Ah, but it’s all a clever ruse! He is actually only using the stunt as a decoy, while his brother (Billy Elliot’s Jamie Bell) attempts to break into Englander’s office vault and retrieve the falsely-reported-as-stolen diamond…right across the street from his ledge, all to prove his innocence and send the bad man to jail.
Oofah, where to start? The cast? I will give the producers their due and say that, while they were casting this film, I’m sure they looked at the names they had signed for this film and thought to themselves, “Wow, we have a legitimate star-studded production!” Unfortunately, from top to bottom, the roles have all been horribly miscast with actors that have shown they can do better when provided with the material to do so.
Worthington has been pushed as the next Hollywood movie star for a couple of years now. Yes, he was the star of Avatar, but how many people left the theaters raving about his performance compared to the folks that just talked about the effects work? He crashed and burned in Clash of the Titans, but you can’t really blame him for that one, no one was coming out of that unscathed. Director John Madden managed to pull a good performance out of him in last year’s The Debt, but I feel Madden also found the secret to directing Worthington to a believable performance: don’t ask him to say too much in a movie. He played an Israeli that barely spoke more than three words at a time in The Debt; here, he is expected to carry the entire film as a native New Yorker, and that English accent is just dying to come out at the most inopportune times during the film. There is one scene during Ledge where he starts screaming and I swear I thought he was on the verge of reciting Macbeth.
The supporting cast doesn’t get away much better. Ed Harris appears to have caught an early screening of The Muppets before filming on this started and thought to himself, “But what if someone played the evil oil tycoon straight, and not for laughs?” Elizabeth Banks (The 40 Year Old Virgin) plays a frazzled NYPD hostage negotiator, and I don’t want to give too much away here, but she’s a little wild. She likes a drink now and then, and she may or may not be woken up by her phone with a hangover, and reach for a cigarette first thing. Also, Ed Burns stars as Ed Burns.
So who’s at fault here? I don’t feel that it’s fair to blame the director (Asger Leth) or screenwriter (Pablo Fenjves), because before Ledge they really haven’t done anything. Seriously, go check their filmographies, I’ll wait here.
See? These were first-timers being handed the keys to the good car. So was this a case of too much studio interference, in the form of script notes and the like, or was it two newcomers that didn’t know how to put the pieces of the puzzle together when finally given a shot and given too much room to fail?
I don’t know; I suppose when it comes to bad movies there are countless people pointing fingers, blaming each other for all of the fallibles found therein. All I know for certain is that this is a bad movie, containing the first horrible ending in a film I’ve seen for the year 2012. Unless you are feeling masochistic this weekend, this is a strong avoid.