Going to see Man on a Ledge was a novel experience for me because I had managed to hear very little about the film beforehand, so went in with few expectations.
It appears that everyone else has also managed to avoid the hype for this film as well: it was just two pensioners and myself in the midweek screening I attended.
The film opens with Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) booking into a hotel. Upon entering his room, he treats himself to lobster and champagne for breakfast before writing a note, and calmly stepping out of his 21st story window onto the ledge outside. The whole film has the look and feel of a classic 80s-early 90s action flick. It is simply, but competently shot. The attraction here comes not from stylistics, but from narrative and performance. Too many films are obsessed with shocking twists in the final 10 minutes of running time. All too often this means that there is barely any plot for the vast majority of the film and the final twist is meant to make up for it. Here, however, the plot slowly reveals its secrets over the entire running time. There are definitely twists and surprises along the way, but they are revealed organically rather than withheld for as long as possible. It is impossible to talk too deeply about the plot of the film without giving away plenty of spoilers. But rest assured this is a cracking action/thriller storyline that teases the viewer with just the right amount of intrigue.
Sam Worthington really reminds one of a younger Russell Crowe in this film. He looks like him, he sounds like him, and he delivers a performance of Crowe calibre. Worthington is going to make a very comfortable living making films like this for the next decade or two if he so chooses. Jamie Bell continues to choose interesting, mainstream roles as he continues on a career that started extremely young. He impresses as Nick’s younger brother Joey, and his character is perhaps the most interesting in the film. Rounding out the main roles is Elizabeth Banks as the negotiator brought in to talk Nick down. She is very good, in a refreshing female role with much more depth than is to be expected from this genre of film. The only real letdown performance-wise comes from Genesis Rodriguez as Joey’s girlfriend Angie. She tries hard, but unfortunately seems to be from the Megan Fox school of both looks and acting ability.
Man on a Ledge reminds us just how enjoyable a mainstream action flick can be. It is not life changing by any stretch of the imagination. Focusing instead on solid performances, a good story and heart – rather than quips and CGI – proves to be a winning formula.
Man on a Ledge opened theatrically on February 2 through Hoyts.