January is a dead month in the film world as evidenced by the ridiculous amount of money given to The Devil Inside. Most hardcore movie fans just hide out with Netflix until March, waiting for the better films to come out. On the last weekend of January though there is a movie worth going to see, Man on a Ledge. Man on a Ledge is similar to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol in that it won’t be winning any awards but it’s just fun. Call this what you want, a “popcorn movie,” a “B-film,” I call it a fun time waster that is far better than it should be.
Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is an ex-cop serving a prison term for allegedly stealing an expensive diamond from wealthy businessman David Englander (Ed Harris). After escaping from prison Nick finds himself on the ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel supposedly prepared to jump. While talking to negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), Nick is also orchestrating a robbery against the man who wronged him.
Man on a Ledge is a fun movie, plain and simple. It’s not going for any awards; it’s just interested in providing a compelling story to entertain audiences for an hour and forty-two minutes. Audiences won’t find deep-seated character analysis and that’s okay. You learn everything you need to know about Nick Cassidy in the first few minutes. He’s honest, innocent, and pissed off! The film is tightly wound and doesn’t overstay its welcome making the scenes of Nick on the ledge where the power of the film lies. The camera emphasizes how high Nick is off the ground, not too far removed from Ethan Hunt’s climb up that building in MI4, and honestly the movie could have just focused on Nick on the ledge for the full time, eliminated the heist, and I still would have been entertained. The scenes in the bank are fun, but in a different, more humorous way as you follow Nick’s brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey’s girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez).
As much as it pains me to admit it, this movie made me forget how much I despise Sam Worthington. He’s a serviceable actor but he ruined the Terminator franchise for me (I know he was one of a bunch of flaws with that movie but he helped!). Worthington doesn’t seem to be going for serious thespian with his roles and here he’s solid as the action hero. He can’t mask that Australian accent to save his life but he’s athletic enough to make all the action moves look easy and he’s fantastic in making Nick set in his innocence. Elizabeth Banks plays a weak second-fiddle to Worthington but she gives the role her all while Ed Harris is always perfect as the villain!
The movie is far from perfect and after you leave the theater you’ll be able to criticize it. There’s a weird fascination with Latin characters with Rodriguez’s character being completely normal in the beginning and then turning in to Sofia Vergara by the end. There’s also a weird, non-joke about Kyra Sedgewick’s character being named Suzie Morales (with a brutal stereotypical emphasis on the “Moraaaalez”). Bell and Rodriguez’s characters are also utter fools during the robbery, a combination of Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets the Keystone Kops. It’s hard to believe they could manage a grocery list let alone a bank robbery and every time the movie switches to them it focuses on their sex lives. The crooked cop’s angle seen in every movie of this genre also is dumped at the last second, mostly because it’s mentioned literally at the last second.
So Man on a Ledge is light but what do you expect in January, especially one where audiences are so desperate for entertainment they’re going out in droves to see The Devil Inside (I just can’t let that go). The movie will be forgotten in a month but there’s always a need for a movie that allows you to sit back, turn off your brain, and just be entertained.
Author: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief
Kristen Lopez is the editor-in-chief of CC2K and a freelance pop culture essayist. Her work has appeared on Roger Ebert, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Daily Beast. When she’s not burning down Film Twitter she runs two podcasts, the female-centric film show Citizen Dame, and the classic film-themed Ticklish Business.