Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Like Sam Worthington doing epic battle with his own accent, Man on a Ledge presents a prime example of a weak director being overpowered by the wild forces of production, with relative newcomer Asger Leth delivering a spotty film that is exactly the sum of its parts. No two actors are playing the same level of heightened realism, from Elizabeth Banks’ almost tragic cop to Kyra Sedgwick’s cartoonish reporter (Susie Morales, her last name spoken with comical precision). The shots are uniformly workmanlike, though a couple interesting touches poke through, like when someone falls off. And the point of all this is some overdetermined story about the one percent twirling their mustaches. Leth would have been better off making a good movie before aiming for greatness.
See, the plot is classic pulp. Worthington plays a fugitive ex-cop who climbs out his hotel room window threatening to jump, but it’s all a ploy to prove his innocence. Writer Pablo F. Fenjves Phone Booths it up with a cast of about fifteen disparate main characters—the hotel porter, the other cops, an onlooker—who all figure into the narrative eventually; the plot is so tidy it’s got OCD. But it really starts to thrill once the secrets start to spill, and for the climax, everyone’s running all over the hotel with guns and agendas and Man on a Ledge momentarily reaches an ecstatic messiness that you never saw coming.
Unfortunately, for the rest of the running time it’s just regular messiness. Jamie Bell’s trapped in this terrible rom-com shtick while carrying out a heist. Ed Burns is playing this obvious mutual respect will-they-or-won’t-they with Elizabeth Banks, who is marvelous. And Sam Worthington is, well, Sam Worthington. There are some entertaining highlights, but it’s a wonder we get where we’re going with nobody driving the train.
Posted by Brandon Nowalk at 3:55 AM