It would be tempting to dismiss Man On A Ledge as being inspired by the 1951 film noir Fourteen Floors, but the film itself has no such reckless ambitions. True, the two movies share a central conceit of a man stepping out on to the ledge of a hotel, bringing the surrounding city to a halt as the police try to unravel the mystery of why he is out there. But Man On A Ledge star Sam Worthington is no Richard Baseheart, and the new film is not so much a drama as it is a heist caper with a high concept twist.
Nick Cassidy (Worthington) checks into a moderately swanky mid-town Manhattan hotel orders a nice meal from room service and then casually steps out onto the ledge of his 20th floor room. The police are quickly summoned with Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) leading the effort to talk him back in off the ledge while trying to figure out who he is. It is soon revealed that Nick’s suicide attempt is actually a distraction, keeping police occupied so his brother (Jamie Bell) and his brother’s girlfriend Gina (Génesis Rodríguez) can break into a vault in the building across the street in order to steal evidence that a Donald Trump-esque real estate mogul (a scenery chewing Ed Harris) framed him for the crime Cassidy recently escaped prison for.
Even in the best light, Man On A Ledge is only just a standard, serviceable piece of entertainment and coming out after two months of Academy Awards fodder having been released in to theaters, it pales even further in comparison. But if you’re looking for something to watch with your brain in neutral, there are probably worse options. Not many worse options, but I’m sure that Alvin & The Chipmunks 3 is still in some theaters, so there are a few worse ones.
Setting aside the faulty logic of stolen evidence being admissible in a court of law, the plot is fairly predictable even when you’re not analyzing it too closely, but things are kept moving by some brisk direction and editing. Banks unfortunately seems out of her depth as the stressed out police officer tasked with talking Cassidy back in the window while Worthington is just as good as the material needs him to be but gives nothing more.
On the plus side, the chemistry between Bell and Rodríguez is engaging enough. But that’s not enough to really recommend plunking down your hard earned money for anything more than a Saturday afternoon matinee ticket. Fitting, perhaps, as the film never rises above the level of b-movie diversion.