Sunday, January 15, 2012

Man on a Ledge review, entertaining and absurd in one

Sam Worthington was the 'it' actor a few years ago.  He was hired for genre films (Terminator: Salvation, Clash of the Titans), as well as ground breaking films (Avatar).  Before you know it, Worthington was phoning in performances and he quickly fell off the radar.  I was so disappointed by what he could have been, and what he became.  It's not too late, he's still very young and has plenty of time to redeem himself.  In comes Man on a Ledge directed by Asger Leth.  A man desperate to prove his innocence for a crime he did not commit, will go to extraordinary lengths to do so.  With a literal title and an interesting premise, let's go.

What I liked about the film:
The Premise
I'd like to be specific, the premise is terrific, the story is ridiculous.  But I'll get to the story later.  The premise is actually very intriguing.  A former police officer, accused of a crime he did not commit, draws the attention of the entire city to prove his innocence.  I really enjoy films that has the audience ask themselves, 'what would you do'?  And this film made me do exactly that.  Well, there's obviously a lot more involved in the finished product, but the premise was great.

The Acting
As crazy a story as it is, the actor deliver sincere performances worthy of their reputations.  Sam Worthington is all in for this one.  He gets to act!  Imagine that, an actor gets to act in a movie.  Elizabeth Banks shows her acting chops as the negotiator who must bring Worthington in from the ledge.  Ed Harris plays the villain and is terrific.  He may be slender in body, but he packs a mean mental punch in this movie.  Jaime Bell and Genesis Rodriguez play Worthington's brother and his brother's girlfriend respectively.  Kyra Sedgwick and Edward Burns are in the movie for really no reason at all.  They serve the purpose of some exposition, but not much.  Great cast overall.

The Editing
Without giving much away, the movie has two simultaneous stories working at once.  The main plot follows Worthington on the ledge, the corresponding plot follows his brother and his brother's girlfriend.  The brother is guiding a heist and required this clever editing.  It was essential to the film's success.  Kevin Stitt did a nice job of helping to keep the movie going.  It had a great pace that was quick and effective.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Script
The premise was great, the story was absurd.  In essence, the film is a thriller.  But when it tries to be more, it starts to fall apart.  The thriller becomes a heist; don't worry the trailer tells you so.  With one ridiculous coincidence after another, the movie lost me.  I love heist films, and I'm ok with one "close call".  I'm even ok with one of those situations that "must happen for the rest of plan to work".  But when every single aspect of the heist is a "close call", or coincidental, I'm done.

The Verdict:
Entertaining and dumb
A movie that primarily takes place in one setting, i.e. Phone Booth, is tough to execute. Likewise, a heist movie similar to the 'Oceans' films are tough to execute.  So when a movie like Man on a Ledge tries to do both, it's almost setting itself up for failure.  The film is fast and fun to watch.  But so utterly stupid in script, that if you think about it, you'll be disappointed in the writing.  I'd say wait for this on video. AtD?

Why the hell have most of the movie cover the heist, if in the end there was nothing there?  Some of the stupidest writing I've ever seen.  And seriously, what if Worthington doesn't get into a fight with his brother at the funeral?  I would think, the cops wouldn't have let him stand next to his brother in the first place.  Pretty dumb stuff.

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