An ex-cop and now wanted fugitive (Sam Worthington) stands on the ledge of a high-rise building while a hard-living New York Police Department negotiator (Elizabeth Banks) tries to talk him down. The longer they are on the ledge, the more she realizes that he might have an ulterior objective.
Ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is an innocent man, even though he was convicted of stealing a very expensive diamond from real estate tycoon David Englander (Ed Harris) and is currently a wanted fugitive after escaping police custody during a day-out from Sing Sing Prison. Standing atop a ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City Nick proclaims his innocence, but all is not what it seems. Police negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), who has been nicknamed the Grim Reaper after one of her jumpers did in fact jump off a bridge during her watch, has been requested by Nick to talk him down from the ledge. Nick has no intention of leaving the ledge any time soon as everything is part of his plan to prove his innocence, and with the help of his brother Joey and his girlfriend he plans to do just that, all while remaining on the ledge.
Man On A Ledge has all of the necessary components for an entertaining thriller. Nick's innocence is never questioned, but as twists and additional plot points are revealed with side-characters you do wonder just who was responsible for his conviction--was it David Englander, Nick's ex-partner Mike (Anthony Mackie), or altogether someone else. The mystery may not be the most difficult to solve but getting to the ending of Man On A Ledge is a great deal of fun with the amateur heist going on, watching Nick manipulate the police and lookey-loos on the ground to his liking, and seeing Banks' character Mercer get more and more frustrated as the minutes pass. You also have the sinister David Englander, a character Ed Harris appears to have drawn from "The Simpsons" own Mr. Burns. The plot of Man On A Ledge is far from plausible yet easily engrosses the viewer to the point that no one cares--you're enjoying yourself too much to mind.
Aside from act one of the screenplay, Man On A Ledge's Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) spends the entire film on the ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. As the main character, and being sequestered to one space, the work of Editor Kevin Stitt alongside Cinematographer Paul Cameron is of the utmost importance. Stitt works the angles on Cassidy, making sure that the viewer does not feel stuck watching him from solely one position. He chooses a variety of shots, made possible by Cameron's camera work, to give the small space of the ledge a greater expanse. To play up the intensity and fear of being on a ledge Stitt manipulates the vertigo effect of looking down from Cassidy's POV, as well as looking up at him from the street below to give a sense of the height being dealt with from his stance on the ledge. He also carefully chooses when to cut to the other storylines of the film, be it Nick's brother Joey and his girlfriend Angie attempting to break into the vault or a quick visit to reporter Suzie Morales (Kyra Sedgwick) for some comic relief during tense situations. Stitt manages to break up the monotony of the ledge with precise timing of cuts on Nick and to other characters in the film and their personal situations. The result is a rapidly paced film that never grows stale even with pinned locations.
Man On A Ledge is not a comedy, but that does not mean it will not have you giggling during certain scenes. A favorite amongst the audience is bound to be the initial introduction to News Reporter Suzie Morales, played by Southern Belle Kyra Sedgwick. The bulk of the humor belongs to Jamie Bell's Joey and saucy girlfriend Angie. The two of them together, trying to break-in to a vault, is absolute amateur hour and it is hilarious at times. There is a special chemistry between the two characters that creates incredible sarcastic banter, much to the audience's delight. It is this, and also the trials they face as amateur sleuths, that gives Man On A Ledge a touch of comedy that is surprising, and most welcome.
January 27, 2012