’Man On a Ledge’ fails to thrill

By Emily Merlino

Courtesy MCT Campus

Inexplicably featuring proficient actors that should have much better career options than this, “Man on a Ledge” is the kind of movie that was meant to be shown on an early morning flight, when the passengers are only looking for a mildly engrossing way to pass the time.

Sam Worthington of “Avatar” fame plays the eponymous man on a ledge, an escaped felon harboring an elaborate plot to prove his innocence. Worthington’s role as martyr Nick Cassidy may have been taken seriously had he not narrated the life-or-death situation with a Batman-like growl, treating every moment like it deserved a comically intense whisper. He is counseled by what appears to be the most ineffective police psychologist in America, Laura Mercer. Mercer, played by an attractive, blonde Elizabeth Banks, is flat and emotionless in her feeble efforts to ease Cassidy off the ledge. She’s lucky Cassidy didn’t just jump and get it over with.

Cassidy has enlisted his brother, portrayed with likeable charm by Jamie Bell, to aid in his exoneration attempts. No back story is explained between Cassidy and his brothers, which is not a cinematic sin. However, it does point out that no background is given for anything in the movie, a crucial flaw in this cop thriller.

Accompanied by his perky Latina girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez), the earth-bound Cassidy brother breaks into a balding New York mogul’s skyscraper through a series of outlandish events pulled right out of the “Ocean’s Eleven” playbook. The history of this couple is never provided – surprise – which is fine, but leaves no room for emotion when it comes to tense or dangerous moments featuring the two. The pair battle heat sensors and alarm wires, but the most improbable element of the entire heist was that, on this particular day, in what is supposed to be a multimillion dollar conglomerate, no employees seem to be at the office to witness the outrageous break-in happening in their money-making machine.

In fact, the only employees who seem to be at the office are an assistant and the dastardly CEO and antagonist, Ed Harris, looking and sounding very much like finger-twiddling Simpson’s villain Mr. Burns. Harris, a respectable actor, acts like he has something better to do the entire movie, which, to be fair, he probably does. Yet again, the plot suffers from a dull arc. The audience is never really given a reason why Harris is so evil except for his greed. The caricature of the Wall Street powerhouse, money-worshipping One-Percenter is supposed to be topical, but all it does is lend a silly, overdone tone to a movie that was already struggling in the plot department.

Inserting Ed Burns as busy cop and Kyra Sedgwick in a random, baffling bit piece as a witchy reporter appears to have been done to give the film some name recognition, because without the who’s-who in the credits, fewer people would turn out.

“Man on a Ledge” is not a terrible movie, and it certainly wasn’t tedious or uninteresting. For what it was – a movie to be seen by your parents on HBO five months after it came out – it satisfied. It does not deserve an Oscar, but it doesn’t deserve a Razzie, either, which sort of puts it in a bad place. It isn’t great enough to spend money on or take a date to, but it isn’t horrible enough to watch ironically and laugh at with your friends.

This means that it will inevitably end up lost in the shuffle on Netflix, only to be remembered when it is the next featured showing on the red eye from Cleveland to Boise.

Emily Merlino can be reached at [email protected]