Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Man on a Ledge

 I do not own the above image.  Used for entertainment purposes only.  Copyright Summit Entertainment.  All rights reserved.

"Man on a Ledge" is the kind of movie where plausibility shouldn't be very high.  It is the kind where you should be able to sit in the dark with an ice cold drink, alcoholic if necessary, and your favorite snack and just let the next 105 minutes or so just float over you.  But the key aspect of the movie is missing: fun.

Nick Cassidy is a cop convicted of stealing a $40 million diamond from a real estate mogul.  With the help of his brother, Joey, & his girl, Nick looks to prove his innocence.   Nick hatches a plan wherein his brother retrieves the not-really-stolen diamond from the mogul's vault while he plays a decoy on the ledge of the hotel caddy-corner to the office building.  Sounds like a blast right?  Not exactly.

About 45 minutes in, I looked at the Joey's face.  Jamie Bell may not be the best actor in the world but the deathly seriousness of his facial expression just doesn't fit.  And that may be because the combination of the genres doesn't either.  "MoaL" wants to be a escaped, innocent man looking for exoneration surrounding a heist movie.  But unfortunately, it plays like the opposite.  The innocent man is just the secondary plot line thrust into the spotlight.  Instead of the diamond being the MacGuffin, Nick walking onto the ledge is.

But that's saying the movie only has that one problem.  None of the characters, least of all Sam Worthington's Nick, are interesting.  Nick is essentially a cardboard cutout of the cliched newsmaker, playing up to the theatre's audience more than the character's audience.  Joey & his hot-bodied love interest Angie are bland caricatures, especially Angie, whose purpose in the entire movie is for the one fleeting moment that you have seen numerous times in the advertising.  The Elizabeth Banks police negotiator is the only real character of interest.  Her recent backstory is particularly intriguing but is never explored to any extent.  Finally, though, I feel so sorry for Ed Harris.  A three-time Oscar-nominee should not be relegated to a stock, rich, stupidly grandiose villain.

But most of all, the story, for as seriously as it is taken (and I'm talking "The King's Speech" serious), the entire plot and even some of the routine actions make absolutely no sense.  The list of issues could take as long as the movie is to discuss but there are a few that are so strikingly awful.  First, the escape scene is absurd.  From where Nick escapes to how he escapes and to the accident used as a decoy, which has to be seen to be believed, makes the idea that Middle Earth may have actually have existed realistic.  Maybe in a spoiler-filled discussion I can explain the issue with a certain minor character's identity.

Overall, Man on a Ledge is just plain boring for too long before the big payoff.  The payoff being the last 20 minutes or so where first time director Asger Leth tries to channel his inner Paul Greengrass to duplicate the Jason Bourne trilogy with high speed, frenetic chase.  But that moment only lasts so long until you realize that even that sequence is characteristically illogical and cliched.  It is way too much for a movie to ask us to sit patiently for an hour a & twenty minutes just to enjoy 20 minutes of excitement that doesn't survive 20 seconds into the end credits.

*1/2 (out of 5 stars)

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