DVD Review: Man on a Ledge

Man on a Ledge Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Summit | DIRECTOR: Asger Leth | CAST: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Anthony Mackie, Genesis Rodriguez, Kyra Sedgwick, Edward Burns
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 5/29/2012 | PRICE: DVD $26.99, Blu-ray $30.49
BONUSES: featurette, trailer with commentary by Elizabeth Banks
SPECS: PG-13 | 102 min. | Action thriller | 2.40:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

You’d think the title would say it all, but the thriller Man on a Ledge offers a lot more—like car chases, gunfights, fisticuffs and a high-tech diamond heist. It’s unfortunate that the titular scenario is the one that works best for the film, which suffers from the attention that’s afforded to the rest of it.

Man on a Ledge movie scene

Sam Worthington perches 25 floors up in Man on a Ledge.

The main story involves ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington, The Debt), who’s been wrongly convicted for a stealing a $40 diamond from an evil tycoon (Ed Harris, The Way Back) with a nefarious agenda. Escaping from incarceration, Cassidy makes his way to a midtown New York hotel and shimmies out onto a ledge on the 25th floor. Cassidy obviously has a plan, but it’s one he won’t immediately discuss with negotiators Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns, Nice Guy Johnny) and Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks, Our Idiot Brother) or his ex-partner (Anthony Mackie, Real Steel), even as his brother (Jamie Bell, Jane Eyre) and bro’s girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez, Casas De Mi Padre) put the plan into motion. As the crowd below grows, the NYPD begins to get more aggressive, the vein in Ed Harris’s neck begins to bulge, and the scheme is revealed, Cassidy and company find themselves in increasingly more dangerous (and arguably ridiculous) scenarios—both on the ledge and off.

Unlike earlier man-on-a-ledge scenarios—most notably Henry Hathaway’s 1951 nail-biter Fourteen Hours, the “Ledge” segment from the 1985 Stephen King-penned thriller anthology Cat’s Eye and, most recently, 2011’s The LedgeMan on a Ledge throws so many other story elements, plot points and locations into the mix that the thrills begin to wane by the half-way point. Pablo F. Fenjves’s screenplay definitely broadens the scope of the action, but it’s all too convoluted and silly to keep up the film’s initial momentum. And the last quarter throws in too much action (unrealistic action!) away from the ledge, diluting all the thrills that were delivered earlier. Thought the actors are adequate—Worthington and Banks are always watchable–their dialogue is pretty weak, particularly the banter between Bell and Rodriguez and anything coming out of the mouth of the almost-cartoony villain Harris. The best moments, again, are the hair-raising ones director Asger Leth mounts  of sky-high Worthington balancing precariously on his six-inch concrete perch as he’s forced to deal with negotiators, heavy breezes and lots near-death experiences.

The too-small bonus package contains a standard EPK featurette that runs about 15 minutes and, strangely, the film’s theatrical trailer with a commentary by Elizabeth Banks. She delivers a perky 2 ½ minutes of chatter as the trailer unspools (we’re thinking she recorded it during the theatrical press junket), talking about how the film was shot 200 feet in the air on an upper ledge of New York’s Roosevelt Hotel and that  MTA buses were frequently re-routed over the course of the production. “New York City was really not happy about what we were doing,” she laughs. She also offers such nuggets as “Sam Worthington is real manly and sexy” and “Ed Harris is really handsome – he’s aged like a great bottle of wine—a shwanky-looking older man that I would still like to tap.”

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.