Directed by Asger Leth
Starring Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, Edward Burns
Occasionally Hollywood hits a trend where several films of the same type come out all at once or within really close proximity to each other. There’s the disaster film, the zombie film, most recently the alien invasion films, and the lesser known hostage negotiator film. Could Man on a Ledge be the first in a return of the lesser known sub-genre of film? There have been many others, some pretty great, including the on the nose titled The Negotiator.
The Man on a Ledge, as it were, is a cop who insists he was wrongly convicted of stealing a diamond, a $40 million diamond. He escapes prison and steps out on the ledge of a hotel owned by the man (Ed Harris) he stole the diamond from. Elizabeth Banks plays the police detective brought in to talk our “hero” down from the ledge. This leads to the first problem with the film. Banks is a cute girl, almost innocent looking. She was probably at her best in Slither and in Zack and Miri Make a Porno. She’s good enough in this role but miscast. She’s supposed to be playing a grizzled heavy drinking cop beat down by a failed rescue of another cop. She’s too cute and too perky for the role. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good an actor you are; you just can’t get away from who you really are. Kyra Sedgwick plays a throwaway role as a reporter in the film with two funny lines. The movie might have been better served had she and Banks swapped roles.
Obviously all is not as it seems in the film and much of the twisting and turning is as predictable as bad sushi on a Chinese buffet but there still some nice story elements here and there. There’s an overall sort of 80’s outlandishness from the ridiculously over the top stop story elements to the story that’s just so sentimental and engaging that the flaws are often forgivable. That’s if you like 80’s action movies. Secondary characters are surprisingly amusing, our heroes’ brother and his girlfriend are often scene stealers. Ed Harris in your movie is never a bad thing and Ed Harris as a villain is even better. The actual on the ledge stuff is fairly suspenseful even though you know the hero isn’t going to fall to his death it’s still entertaining and he eventually makes a decision that’s damned exhilarating.
The film definitely feels lower budget than other similar films featuring heist elements but the money the filmmakers did have was well spent because action scenes are all well executed and suspenseful. It’s a little tough to say too much more without getting spoilery as far as the plot goes. If you’re a fan of the medium budget action film such as Shoot ‘Em Up, Smoking Aces, and Running Scared then you’ll have a good time with Man on a Ledge.