Man on a Ledge would have been considerably more entertaining if they had simplified the plot. The title says a lot about the movie itself. Much of the one hour and 42 minute running time is filled by the sight of Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) standing on the ledge of a building in New York City. Yet there’s so much convoluted story crammed in, the movie becomes a confusing jumble of ideas. In short, it’s a wasted effort on the part of the filmmakers, resulting in a waste of time for the hapless viewer.
It begins with a classic “wrong man” set up, though far from the way Alfred Hitchcock dealt with similar material (i.e. – in an exciting, suspenseful, intelligent, and often thought-provoking way). For this kind of movie to work, first off, we need to actually care about the accused right from the get go. With Nick it’s difficult to follow what he did or didn’t do, whether he is guilty or innocent. He’s an ex-cop who was convicted of stealing a mega-valuable diamond. It’s hard to even know what constitutes a “spoiler” for Man on a Ledge, because the filmmakers (under the apparent guise of cleverness) reveal plot details in a seemingly almost random way. Suffice it to say, Nick breaks out of jail and goes to a skyscraper where he writes a suicide note, has a final meal, and steps out on the ledge.
He wants the cops to believe he is going to jump and demands to talk only to Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), a negotiator with a bad track record for preventing jumpers. Lydia, on a downward spiral of drinking and depression (but still looking hot immediately after a rude awakening), comes in to try and talk Nick back into the building. For some reason, this former cop who was convicted after an apparently well-known diamond heist is unrecognizable to all involved. Meanwhile, Nick’s brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey’s girlfriend Angie (Génesis Rodríguez) are engaged in a low-key mission to help prove Nick’s innocence. It isn’t a spoiler to say Nick isn’t going to leap to his death, the movie makes it clear very early that he has higher ambitions than ending his own life.
The bad guy here is David Englander (Ed Harris). He owned the diamond that Nick was convicted of stealing, so he figures pretty prominently in the third act. Harris is a great actor who doesn’t seem to be doing a whole lot of high profile work lately. I hope he was well-compensated for his time in this, because Man on a Ledge is not the type of project that looks good on anyone’s resume. The acting is all serviceable, but special commendation goes to Génesis Rodríguez. I hope to see a lot more of her in the future. If you’ve seen the trailer, she’s the ridiculously hot actress seen–if only for a painfully fleeting moment–in her bra and panties. No, she doesn’t get any further undressed than that in this wussy PG-13 movie. But she’s the only aspect that I really enjoyed.
As should only be expected with a 2012 release, Man on a Ledge looks outstanding on Blu-ray. The 1080p image is at its best when the camera is angled downward over the ledge Nick stands on. The detail seen in the bystanders and cop cars far below is very impressive. The picture is sharp throughout, be it during close-ups or wide shots. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is equally on par with what’s expected from a modern studio-backed production. The rear channels are well utilized for crowd ambiance during Nick’s ledge sequences. Louder moments are startlingly powerful, such as an early scene when Nick’s escape vehicle is smashed by a train–the bass is quite powerful. Dialogue is crystal clear and mixed at a natural level.
Supplemental material is light. A 15 minute EPK-style featurette, creatively titled “The Ledge,” offers a few glimpses of behind the scenes activity. Far more noteworthy is the commentary track, by Elizabeth Banks, that accompanies not the feature film, but the theatrical trailer. Anyone who finds themselves bored beyond belief by the average audio commentary–this track is for you. For all of two minutes, Banks supplies a steady stream of observations about the film. It’s not terribly informative, but as special features go, it’s a fun novelty.