a critiQal film review Man on a Ledge (2012)

Plot: Nick Cassidy (Worthington), an ex-cop who is now a wanted fugitive, stands on the ledge of a high-rise building while a hard-living New York Police Department negotiator (Banks) tries to talk him down. The longer they are on the ledge, the more she realizes that Nick just might have an ulterior objective.

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When I first heard about Sam Worthington’s new flick, Man on a Ledge, I was definitely interested. Worthington, who has managed to connect solidly with viewers in the past (just look at how he outshone Bale in Terminator Salvation (2009)), plays a character who literally goes out on a ledge to prove his innocence. Toss in a heist and a big name cast to back him up, and Man on a Ledge sounded good from the word “go”.

But, after missing it during it’s run through theaters, it kind of faded out of my mind until it’s recent release on DVD brought it back into focus. With the DVD arriving unexpectedly at my door thanks to NetFlix®, I couldn’t wait to sit down and see if Man on a Ledge would be able to live up to my high expectations for it.

As expected, Sam Worthington is once again able to make a connection to the viewers, creating a character they will easily be able to sympathize with, even if his actions at first seem abrupt and unexpected. Worthington’s Nick Cassidy is a man who has been pushed to the brink by an imperfect justice system, and now has only one last ditch effort available to him. Worthington plays him well, creating a sense of both strength and vulnerability in his character that viewers will quickly connect with.

His connection to the audience, in this case, is done via an interpreter, as his reactions with the crisis negotiator make up the main part of his time on-screen. His interpreter in Man on a Ledge is Elizabeth Banks, who, despite her comedic background, manages to surprise viewers by playing a strong serious role in this film. Her interactions with Worthington take up most of the running time, and thankfully, neither party ever lets the viewers down.

The rest of the cast plays second fiddle to these two, including Ed Harris, who manages to play the bad guy surprisingly well (at least, surprising for those who were expecting another watered-down bad guy performance like he showcased in National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (2007)), turning the guy into a man the viewers will love to hate.

While the film diverts the viewer’s attention to the titular man on a ledge, there is also another part of the film -the heist, and that’s where co-stars Genesis Rodriguez and Jamie Bell. While Genesis Rodriguez’s name isn’t familiar now, if her performance in this film is any indication, that should change with her upcoming roles in big films The Last Stand (2013) and Identity Thief (2013). Her co-hort in the heist is Jamie Bell, the kid who played Billy Elliot all grown up. While he is overshadowed by up-and-comer Genesis, he doesn’t let the viewer down either, and the heist becomes a fun piece of the whole in Man on a Ledge.

A taut thriller that keeps the tension high, Man on a Ledge does a solid job of keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat as the film unfolds. It’s not without it’s faults (a sequence near the end will have many shaking their heads in disbelief, and Worthington’s accent does tend to fade in and out for no apparent reason), but even while it has quite a bit to tie together, it manages to do so in a way that will keep the viewer wondering how it’s all going to end…and for a thriller like Man on a Ledge, that’s exactly what viewers want.

With a solid cast, a tense storyline and a thrilling location (with most of the shooting actually done on the ledge itself), Man on a Ledge is a taut thriller that won’t disappoint.

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