“You know, Mikey, one day you’re going to stick your dick in the wrong door, and somebody’s going to slam it,” and that line represents Man on a Ledge in a nutshell. Goofy and laughable, but overall kind of charming. Director Asger Leth, with the assistance of commercial honcho mega producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, has made a through and through B movie.
What you’d expect from a movie called Man on a Ledge, you get. It’s all fairly preposterous and thin, and Leth knows not to let it go on too long before its cheesy charms lose steam. The plot, well, you already know it. Anyone who’s seen that trailer has seen it all. For those of you who live under a rock though, Ledge follows Nick Cassidy, played compellingly enough by Sam Worthington and a dodgy accent. Cassidy wants to prove his innocence over a stolen diamond, so like any wise man, he escapes prison and goes to hang out on a ledge. But things aren’t what they seem, as is always the case. As he teases a suicide, his brother Joe (Jamie Bell) and his eye-candy girlfriend, played by the suavely named Genesis Rodriguez, go about robbing the man who may have framed Nick, the snarling David Englander (Ed Harris).
Yes, it’s all as silly as it sounds. That’s why it was a smart move on Leth’s part to gather up some strong actors to make not-so-strong material work. The structure and pace the script mostly nails down, but the ensemble has to put in the work. It involves pure thriller 101 dialogue and archetypes. The ensemble finds the proper tone to make sure every line doesn’t land with a thud. They’re aware of the goofiness, but they approach it in a serious manner, not with irony.
Even Worthington somehow manages to hold back a big grin during his moments. The only actor who violently nudges the audience to let them in on the joke is Ed Harris. If you didn’t think Man on a Ledge was plain ‘ol silliness, wait until you see Harris’s performance. The veteran actor has a tremendous line about how cocaine, prostitutes, and a private jet make for the perfect corrupt gift for a corrupt man. It’s the type of scene that come Ed Harris Oscar sizzle reel, it better be in there.
Need more proof of the film’s bravua cheese? The way Leth shoots Rodriguez gives Michael Bay a run for his money in the skeevy framing department. Bay always seems well-aware of the joke behind filming actresses like a teenage stalker. Leth, on the other hand, goes beyond joking. With perhaps an exception or two, Rodriguez solely remains in tight clothing and an extreme — and I mean extreme — push-up bra, never not being sexualized. Rodriguez isn’t playing a character, but one of those Victoria Secret posters that hang in the store window.
All of Man on a Ledge‘s goofball ideas escalate as the film progresses, and it goes into an even more entertaining direction come the third act. There’s scarcity in seriousness present, and when there is, one can’t wait for the return of the goofball plot mechanics and concepts to return.
The Upside: Fast-paced; cheesy as one would hope based on the title; respectable cast giving fine performances; Ed Harris goes as smarmy as a human being could ever possibly go.
The Downside: Only lets Ed Harris play smarmy; Why is Keira Sydwick here?; could stand to lose five minutes.
On The Side: How cool would it have been if the trailer only showed Worthington on the ledge, not the whole how and why?