Lots of factors play into my decision whether or not to see a particular movie. Sometimes the story itself looks intriguing, like Limitless or the recent Chronicle. Other times, it’s the director that draws me in. I’ll go see an M. Night Shyamalan movie just off GP, because I’m a fan. More often than not though, it’s the cast that attracts me. I like Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans), so when I belatedly heard about Man on a Ledge, I didn’t need much convincing.
Worthington stars as Nick Cassidy, a former police officer wrongly convicted of stealing a priceless gem from Wall Street titan David Englander, played by a scary-looking Ed Harris (Appaloosa). Englander framed Cassidy, who was disgraced after being sentenced to prison. After being denied parole, Nick decides to take desperate action to clear his name. I won’t reveal the elaborate ruse that takes place, but lets just say that he devises a plan to escape from prison and soon he’s a fugitive. Everything that happens next is all part of a carefully designed plan to exonerate Nick while finding out which other cops on the force helped set him up with Englander. He enlists the help of Officer Lydia Mercer, (Elizabeth Banks, The Next Three Days) who is called in to talk him off the ledge. Ah, the ledge. Why is Nick on the ledge, and how can that help him clear his name? Well, if I told you all that I’d spoil the movie wouldn’t I? While Nick is on the ledge he forms a cautious bond with Mercer. A recent mistake in the course of duty has caused her to lose favor with her peers on the force, just as Nick did when he went to prison. This bond proves useful, because when the you-know-what hits the fan, Mercer is Nick’s only ally.
I think a lot of people are reluctant to see this movie because it seems familiar, or one note. It’s a little smarter than that though. It was relatively suspenseful throughout, and certain elements of the movie made it a solid caper. Worthington let his natural Australian accent creep in a few times, but other than that he gave an earnest performance as the unlikely villain turned hero. Anthony Mackie (The Adjustment Bureau) and Edward Burns also make appearances. I wasn’t blown away by any one particular performance, but this wasn’t that kind of movie. It was more plot-driven than character-driven, though the cast was more than capable. I enjoyed the way it all unfolded, and by the time it’s over we see that Nick had a very strategic plan in place, using his law enforcement experience to predict everyone else’s moves. The movie even offers a slight commentary on society (or at least jaded New Yorkers) by showing the perverse fascination with which passersby watch Nick, rooting for him to jump. Was this movie deep and twisty like The Usual Suspects or as clever as Inside Man? Of course not, but sometimes a distant second is good enough. You won’t be blown away, but you won’t be disappointed either. Wow. I just read the previous sentence and that was a lukewarm endorsement LOL. I’ll put it in better terms: Grade B