Weinberg Reviews MAN ON A LEDGE
Look, the flick is called Man on a Ledge, so I think it's safe to say that nobody here has delusions of Oscar attention. This is what's called a "high concept thriller," which (I think) means that the flick can be described in one flashy sentence. Like this:
"It's about a guy who climbs out onto a hotel ledge and feigns sadness so that his brother (and hot girlfriend) can stage a covert heist right down the street."
Already this sounds like an NBC movie of the week that would have premiered during sweeps week in 1987. It's not exactly high art is what I'm saying, but that's not to say there isn't a little fun to be had amidst this silly and sometimes draggy little gimmick thriller. (And by "gimmick thriller" I mean Cellular, Red Eye, Phone Booth, and, well, Man on a Ledge.) The good news is this: if the slightly clever concept of the film sounds at least slightly diverting to you, then there's a good chance you'll have a little fun with Man on a Ledge once it pops up on VOD for $4. (The film has meager charms; I never said it was worth a $50 family night at the movies.)
At the very least, Man on a Ledge lets a big batch of cool actors run around and look busy for a while: our hero is the bland but suitably noble Sam Worthington, and his spectacle ends up irritating cops (Edward Burns), friends (Anthony Mackie), negotiators (Elizabeth Banks), real estate tycoons (Ed Harris), and goofy reporters (Kyra Sedgwick). On the side of our hero we have a brilliant criminal of a little brother (Jamie Bell), his crazily capable (and very sexy) girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez), and a mysterious hotel valet (Bill Sadler) who sort of watches everything from the sidelines. Throw in a few commercial breaks and Man on a Ledge is, like I said, an above-average TV movie. Directed with fluid but uninspired crispness by Asger Leth (he co-directed Ghosts of Cite Soliel in 2006), the flick never transcends its gimmicky nature, and the result is a watchable but forgettable affair that spends a little too much time talking and not enough time throwing curveballs at our crafty protagonist.
By the time Man on a Ledge manages to throw in a few surprises, jokes, or bursts of solid energy, you'll be wishing it hadn't saved all that stuff for Act III. For a movie with such a broad premise, it takes itself a bit too seriously. Basically, Man on a Ledge is at its best when it's being sillier; you just have to wait a little while for the good stuff.
Man on a Ledge opens wide across the U.S. today.