There are many reasons a good actor will choose to take a job. They might need the money. They might want to work with a certain director or cast members attached to the project. They may even have a studio contract requiring them to be in the film. These are the only reasons the actors in “Man on a Ledge” should have agreed to be a part of this film.
The premise is one that we have seen before and it’s one that has been done better. In 1998, Kevin Spacey and Samuel Jackson starred in “The Negotiator,” a film that is just as exciting to watch today as it was then.
Sam Worthington (“Avatar”) plays Nick Cassidy, a former cop convicted of stealing a very large diamond from businessman David Englander played by Ed Harris (“A Beautiful Mind.”)
Cassidy has always claimed his innocence, and knows he is the only one who can prove it. So, he escapes from prison and stages a phony suicide attempt on the ledge of a New York City hotel.
He tells negotiator Jack Daugherty played by Edward Burns (“Saving Private Ryan”) that the only person he will speak with is fellow down-on-her-luck negotiator Lydia Mercer who is played by Elizabeth Banks (“30 Rock”).
While Mercer negotiates with Cassidy, Cassidy’s brother Joey, played by Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliot”) is busy breaking into Englanders safe. The hope here is to uncover the stolen diamond so they can prove his brother’s innocence.
Director Asger Leth builds decent tension with the action on the ledge of the building, but the credit should really go to his cinematographer Paul Cameron.
Leth seems to have had no idea how to direct his cast.
Worthington keeps slipping back into his Australian accent, and looks nowhere near frazzled and crazy enough to be out on that ledge in the first place.
Banks is sorely miscast here and that’s too bad, because she’s a good actress, but she commands no authority in her role.
The only actor who seemed to be working was Jamie Bell. The UK born actor’s roots never showed and he stuck to his character from start to finish.
The script is written by Pablo F. Fenjves who is best known for his television writing. His first effort on the big screen just doesn’t make it to the majors. The dialogue is stiff and the one-liners tossed in to lighten the mood are inappropriate and in the wrong places.
Seeing Man on a Ledge just might leave you looking for a ledge of your own.