Disbelief the Only Thing not Suspended in “Man on a Ledge”

Disbelief the Only Thing not Suspended in “Man on a Ledge” January 27, 2012

There’s nothing really wrong with the drama “Man on a Ledge,” but there’s nothing really right about it either. Everything – story, acting, effects, script – needed to be about 37% better to lift the movie from “meh” to “pretty good.”

Avatar’s Sam Worthington stars as the titular character. He’s a former cop named Nick Cassidy in New York serving time for stealing a diamond from a client he was protecting as a side job. He busts free from prison, rents a swanky room, enjoys a bit of room service, and takes his after dinner stroll on the ledge outside.  He’s innocent, he tells you, and he will prove it or die trying.

Luckily, he’s got backup. His brother (Jamie Bell) and his brother’s sassy Latina girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) spring into action in an elaborate plot to, well, do something. It’s not immediately clear exactly what. Nick’s old partner Mike (Anthony Mackie) keeps coming ‘round. But a traumatized, tired police negotiator named Lydia with a haunting failure to overcome (Elizabeth Banks) might just be his greatest ally.

So Nick spends the movie standing on his ledge, randomly yelling at watchers below or threatening to jump. Meanwhile, his brother and chica drill through walls and talk sassy and Lydia wanders around swilling coffee and chewing out coworkers.

You see where it is all going clearly, like you’re standing on some metaphorical movie-watching ledge with a really good view. The fact that Nick, on his cop salary and post-court felon bank account, seems to have an endless supply of cash…no problem. The fact that an uber-trained SWAT team seems to find nothing strange in taking down a suicidal man, with kill shots if necessary…no problem.  The fact that corruption in the police department happens to show up in exactly the right spot to cause Nick trouble…no problem.

No problem because you’ve suspended disbelief and you’re here for a good time.

But when the movie starts dropping even more coincidences and leaps of wild unlikelihood like the dollar bills Nick casts in bunches from the ledge, that’s when we can’t follow any more. Nick may still be suspended 30 stories up, but disbelief is not.

Time to buy a ticket to “The Grey” instead.


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