Man on a Ledge (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Man on a Ledge</strong> (2012)

(On-demand video, August 2012) There’s a comforting familiarity to genre exercises that makes it easy to forgive them for, well, being genre exercises.  Man on a Ledge may benefit from an unusual premise (man goes on a ledge as a diversion for a heist), but it quickly becomes just another thriller with the usual palette of elements: clever virtuous thieves, corrupt cops, framed hero, rapacious journalists, and so on.  To its credit, Man on a Ledge plays its thriller cards well, especially in the first act of the film while all of the plot strands are being set up.  It’s the second third that hits a bit of a lull as the same situation is re-threaded for about 15 minutes: thrillers live or die on narrative energy, and there’s a sense, as the thieves goof around their target, that time is being wasted.  At least the last act of the film speeds up again, leading up to a nice appropriate moment of stunt-work.  Some dynamic camera work helps keep up interest throughout, but some thanks must be given to the good cast assembled here for the film: Sam Worthington as a scruffy protagonist, Ed Harris as a rail-thin villain, up-comer Anthony Mackie as a partner working at cross-purposes, Elizabeth Banks as a damaged police officer and Genesis Rodriguez as a wise-cracking rogue.  It plays reasonably well as a genre thriller, and that’s fine if that’ all you really want to see.  Where it falters is in comparison with other better movies of this kind –specifically Inside Man, Spike Lee’s far-better “New York crime thriller” entry which felt as if it had some connections to contemporary reality rather than just being a somewhat showy thriller.  The far-fetched nature of Man on a Ledge’s plot could have used a bit more grounding (so to speak, ahem) and that’s probably when genre exercises can go astray, by being more focused on their own plot convolutions rather than spending just a bit more time on making it feel even more credible.

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