I am 29 years old. I am single. It's Thursday night as I write this, and I should be out at the bars hitting on beautiful women, or at least lusting after them from afar. Instead, I'm sitting at home writing a stupid review about a stupid movie, thinking about what could have been had I not chosen to go watch Man on the Ledge, a mildly entertaining but laughably dumb crime thriller starring Sam Worthington.
The charming Aussie best known for Avatar but also responsible for such atrocities like Terminator Salvation and Clash of the Titans plays Nick Cassidy, an escaped fugitive and former cop who has climbed onto a ledge to make a big splatter - er, splash - in front of an audience as he attempts to prove his innocence. A dude who looks a lot like a skeletal version of Ed Harris, played by Ed Harris, framed him for stealing a $40 million diamond, and now he's determined to show to the world that the diamond is still in the man's vault. It's like Tower Heist, only unintentionally funny.
Director Asger Leth, whose only other credit is a 2006 documentary, has assembled a fine cast that also includes Anthony Mackie, Jamie Bell, Edward Burns, Elizabeth Banks and the body of Genesis Rodriguez. The movie is pretty enough, the visuals bright and crisp, the body of Genesis Rodriguez very curvaceous. Leth maintains a fast and steady pace and keeps his characters a moment away from death at all times, a great place to be to thrill audiences. Man on a Ledge is entertaining in this regard, and semi-suspenseful. In a stupid, predictable kind of way.
The problem is that the screenplay by Pablo F. Fenjves is atrocious. Action-thrillers do not need to have great screenplays to be good (see all of the awesome action movies of the 1980's for proof), but they do need screenplays that don't degrade from the overall experience. Man on a Ledge has such a screenplay.
In addition to Cassidy spending his day standing on a ledge flirting with a police negotiator played by Elizabeth Banks, the movie also focuses on the attempt by Cassidy's brother (Bell) and his über-busty girlfriend (Rodriguez) to break into a highly secure building, bypass security and drill into a vault like only Ethan Hunt could. Never mind how two amateurs could pull off such a feat or hold a thousand different items out of the two bags they carry in on their shoulders, but it's hard to accept their frame of mind. If I were in that situation, I would be sweating profusely and nervous as hell, and yet the unlikely couple spend their time quarreling and joking back and forth. It's supposed to be lighthearted banter, but it's painfully distracting and unrealistic.
The screenplay is full of moments like that, cringe-inducing dialogue that just doesn't fit the situation. Furthermore, the characters do and say things that don't pass the smell filter, the way the police attempt to talk Cassidy off the ledge or how Ed Harris manages to show up on a rooftop with his corrupt cop partner to kill the protagonists, even though news cameras have been all over the place for hours. The plot holes are prevalent and obvious, and the twists utterly predictable.
The only unpredictable part of the movie: the silly denouement, a capstone to the film where everything tidies up in a nice little bow, Cassidy freed from prison the same day where he immediately heads out to a local bar to celebrate with his new girlfriend. Still wearing the same goddamned clothing he was wearing for the whole movie, sweaty, bloodstained and all. If you consider that a spoiler, come on. There was only one way this movie could end. Cheesy, in a bar, with lots of smiling people and a complete disregard for reality.
Man on a Ledge is fast-paced and entertaining, but it's so ridiculously stupid it's hard to watch at times. Somewhere deep down there was an okay idea, but as soon as pen was put to paper its fate was sealed. Just like my fate was sealed the moment I decided to go see this stupid movie and write this stupid review instead of heading out to the bars. Like Sam Worthington does at the end of the movie. Rub it in, you cocky Aussie bastard.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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