Sam Worthington was sure prepped and ready to become the next big thing. Too bad he still has yet to prove any kind of reasonable acting ability. While his turns in Terminator Salvation, Clash of the Titans, and Avatar gave him the chance to work with James Cameron, at least one of the others gave him some lee way in that he was playing a robot. Something he apparently still hasn’t gotten over with his portrayal of a man out to prove his innocence in Man on a Ledge.
Worthington was just fine in The Debt, but was of course completely overshadowed cast amongst Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, and Jessica Chastain. When coupled with freshman director Asger Leth and a screenplay by TV movie screenwriter Pablo F. Fenjves, the writing’s on the wall as what to expect. Maybe if he Worthington wasn’t surrounded by mostly now B-list actors such as Edward Burns, Kyra Sedgwick, and William Sadler, everyone could have put on a better show. But as it stands, Man on a Ledge only seems to have Elizabeth Banks on its side in a role that seems like it was originally written for Bruce Willis to play in John McClane mode.
Nick Cassidy (Worthington) has just checked into New York’s Roosevelt Hotel. He tips the bellhop, orders champagne, eats a meal, writes a note, and climbs out the window. Of course he’s instantly noticed by passersby below and soon enough, Jack Dougherty (Burns) is called in and TV reporter Suzie Morales (Sedgwick) is on the scene. Nick has left behind no fingerprints and quickly becomes sensationalized gracing him his biggest fan in Hobo Joe. Nick demands to only deal with Lydia Mercer (Banks) who just happens to be the only cop on the scene smart enough to get a partial print of their mysterious jumper off of a cigarette butt. Flashing back one month earlier, Nick is in Sing Sing Correctional Facility for stealing a ginormous diamond from real estate mogul David Englander (Ed Harris, chomping scenery as feverishly as his character does cigars).
Nick is visited by his ex-partner Mike Ackerman (Anthony Mackie) who informs him that his father is on his deathbed. Soon enough, Nick’s father has passed and he manages an elaborate prison break after the funeral. Nick is now on the lam and winds up at a storage container full of evidence, a fake ID, rolls of cash, and a credit card. All this is used to check into the Roosevelt under an assumed identity but it’s all just a decoy for what’s really going down across the street. Nick’s brother Joey (Jamie Bell), along with his girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), are out to Ocean’s Eleven the jewel Englander claims Nick stole from him. Now the three are on an impossible mission to break into Englander’s state-of-the-art vault and prove Nick’s innocence.
We’ve all seen this type of movie too many times before and there’s nothing new to see here. Maybe if director Leth was putting forth as much effort into this film into a better screenplay he could get his foot in the door. However, all he’s managing to do with his debut feature is put the first nail in his own coffin. Not to mention that writer Fenjves seems to think that his screenplay is the smartest “heist” film made in years, going so far as to think that the film needs some heart in all the wrong places. What Man on a Ledge only manages to accomplish is 106 minutes, is to prove why it was released in January.