When a cop is convicted for a crime he did not commit and his world appears to be falling down around him, he takes drastic steps to see justice done. Is Man On A Ledge a quality addition to the thriller genre or is it a case of another hum-drum filler for under two hours.
Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is the cop who is serving time after being convicted of stealing a highly valued crystal from property magnate David Englander (Ed Harris). Frustrated at the lack of progress in his attempt to appeal the decision the death of his father provides an opportunity for Nick to stage a jail-break with the help of his brother, Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey’s girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez).
The ex-cop then makes his way to a hotel and appears to want to end it all in the most dramatic fashion by standing on the ledge at a great height drawing the attention of the typical New York crowd below. Cassidy uses this to appeal to a negotiator, Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), to find the truth of what happened to him and how he was set up. Meanwhile Joey and Angie are taking matters in their own hands to support their brother’s quest to prove his innocence.
The thriller genre is held on some important premises. One of those is that the film must contain certain twists and turn. To be a thriller the story also has to involve an element of ever increasing danger. Some films look to go out of their way to be unique and original, but it is a good thing that Man On A Ledge is not so ambitious. Rather, this film goes through the key points of a thriller genre and exhibits them very well. There are the twists, there are the characters who you think are one thing and are not what they seem, even after they appeared to be something else. That level of intrigue in the key players keeps the film interesting.
Where this film never seeks to be original is in the man er in which it reminds you of similar films. One film in particular that strikes the viewer as bearing very familiar hallmarks is the Samuel L. Jackson/Kevin Spacey effort The Negotiator. That was a good film of its kind based on the cop trying to prove his innocence in a bent system. Where Man On A Ledge is slightly better than the decent Jackson/Spacey effort is in being a truly ensemble piece. There are no big names in the film and the biggest most notable name is arguably Ed Harris who puts in a creditable turn as the unlikeable Englander.
Worthington is hardly a box-office name, but he handles the understated lead role of Nick very well. The character is one that you can believe did work for the police, was not that outstanding, but had the ‘honest eyes’ to go with his bid to prove his innocence. Worthington does that and in no way hogs the screen from his co-stars. Elizabeth Banks as Mercer also does a sterling turn in the role playing someone who has been scarred by a recent horrific episode in her job. The partnership of Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez works a treat and offers quality light relief that films of this nature needs from time to time. My favourite performance, however, was the cameo turn as the apparent valet.
The other key strength of the film is how it ratchets up the tension by raising the stakes bit by bit, so that the audience becomes even more on the edge of their seat as to how things will turn out. The various set-pieces are strategically placed in the film to never reduce the interest of the viewer in what’s going on. the film doesn’t lag in places.
What you are looking for in spending over 100 minutes of you life invested in a thriller is to get a thrill. That is going to go a great deal of the way to enjoying a good time. Man On A Ledge fulfils that criteria to a tee and is worth such an investment of your time.