Man on a Ledge

SHAUN LU considers whether to apply the word ‘ledgendary’ to this film. That’s not a typo, it’s an awesome pun.

Asger Leth bathos cliche Ed Harris Elizabeth Bell Film Genesis Rodriguez geordie shore jamie bell Man on a Ledge popcorn Sam Worthington sandwich thriller

Directed by Asger Leth.

[rating: 3/5]

I wish I could say that this movie had me feeling for the edge of my seat, or that it was a high-rise thriller, or that it simply ‘blue’ me away. (Sam Worthington, who plays the lead role, got his break in Avatar – I know, it’s tenuous…).

Man on a Ledge follows escaped convict Nick Cassidy (Worthington) in his quest to prove his innocence. When the legal system fails you, what’s the natural next step? Well, onto a 21st storey window ledge, obviously, accompanied by hostage negotiater Detective Lydia Mercer (played by Elizabeth Bell).

This creates the distraction for his brother (Jamie Bell) and his brother’s girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) to infiltrate the neighbouring building, in order to prove that the diamond that he was framed for stealing is still in the possession of its original owner, a pantomime villain (Ed Harris).

The plot thickens at an impressive rate thereafter. Stereotypes of the thriller genre are thrown at us left, right and centre. The former cop partner (…but is he a friend or foe?), numerous saboteurs, ups and downs (literally) in the infiltration effort…it is pretty gripping stuff at the start, as the layers are peeled tantalisingly from Cassidy’s past.

Week Five is tough on all of us.

Part of the beauty of the opening half is the use of the ledge as a device for ratcheting up tension. Unfortunately (and this may because I haven’t had an eye test in about five years), the ledge seems to get wider as the movie heads towards its conclusion. In one scene, Cassidy is actually sat down on the ledge eating a sandwich, seemingly without a care in the world. The sheer bathos of the scene actually drew a few laughs from the audience at my screening.

Indeed, the film clearly considers that ledge as the centrepiece and leitmotif of the film, hence the title. But director Asger Leth’s use of the ledge for dramatic purposes (will he jump? Won’t he jump?) is fatally undermined when we realise he’s just not going to jump. The ledge becomes about as dramatic as the revelation that Holly off Geordie Shore may have had sex at some point in her life.

This film is hardly worthy of ledgendary status. The main performances disappoint – Worthington is rarely convincing as the wronged ex-cop, and Bell puts in such an anodyne performance as Worthington’s foil, that if I were him I would have been tempted to jump from sheer boredom. It goes without saying that the chemistry between them is completely absent.

Yet the film does entertain, especially for the first half. It does so despite asking the audience to suspend an awful lot of disbelief, and despite both the aforementioned gripes with acting, and the slow dissolution of the effect of the eponymous ledge. Just remember to ask for a LOT of salt with your popcorn.