The premise of Man on a Ledge seems rather preposterous, but I was surprised at how well this story of an ex-cop pushed to the edge held together (at least until the final act).
While on a one-day pass to attend the funeral of his father, former cop and convicted thief Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) escapes custody. The next morning, with a new suit, false ID, and a wad of cash, Nick checks in to New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel and steps out onto a ledge.
As the police cordon off the the block, a police negotiator (Elizabeth Banks) on leave following the suicide of a cop she was unable to talk down finds herself pulled into the scene at Nick’s resquest. However, that’s only half the story as across the street Nick’s brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey’s girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) are breaking into the vault of the man (Ed Harris) who framed Nick as part of a complicated heist while all the eyes outside are focused on the jumper.
Director Asger Leth and screenwriter Pablo F. Fenjves are able to keep the tension at a fever pitch as Nick has to decide how far he can trust Mercer (Banks), balance the situation to give his family enough time inside, and deal with the prospect that one or both of the cops he worked with, and who are on the scene, may have been in on the job that sent him to prison.
Shot partially in New York City, several stories above street level, Man on a Ledge certainly captures the feel of a man with nowhere to go betting everything he’s got on one last desperate gamble. As Nick’s identity is revealed, and Mercer begins to suspect more is going on, Nick’s plans (and to a lesser extent the plot) begins to unravel, but the film holds it together, at least until the final 15-minutes when all hell breaks loose to give us a far too simplistic happy ending.
Worthington and Banks work well together in the unusual situation, and I certainly wasn’t complaining watching Genesis Rodriguez slink around in a skin-tight outfit. The film also casts well-known faces for relatively small parts including Anthony Mackie as Nick’s old partner and Edward Burns as the first negotiator called to the scene who ends up relegated to support.
Both the Blu-ray and DVD include a 15-minute behind-the-scenes featurette discussing filming in New York City, building a adjustable false floor on the top of the Roosevelt Hotel to film as close to the action as possible, recreating the set on a sound stage for the more dangerous stunt sequences, and digitally matching and filling-in necessary shots. It’s a great special feature, and my only complaint is I wanted to see much more of the process of how the film was made. Although there’s no commentary track for the film, the trailer does include humorous audio commentary by Elizabeth Banks which makes for an amusing extra.
[Summit Entertainment, Blu-ray $30.49 / DVD $26.99]