Recent heist films have been somewhat unwilling to emphasise their own genre, often tweaking the context in an attempt to re-imagine old archetypal characters; Christopher Nolan for example packaged his Inception within a semi-conscious dreamscape where the heist took place in the characters’ own psyches. Man on a Ledge seems to be taking a similar approach where the actual heist is an attempt to steal evidence that will prove the innocence of ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) who, meanwhile, is overlooking the event via a suicide attempt that will lure the police away from the actual crime. Sadly, whilst Inception‘s twist both added to and refined the characters and narrative of the heist, Man on a Ledge‘s ‘deception’ fails to distract us from the poorly written script and uninspired cinematography that pervades the entire narrative.
It’s hard to know where to begin with a film that has so many negatives. The acting throughout is bad but Worthington stands out as the worst. His movements are overly calculated and robotic, add this to his awkward and stiff approach to dialogue and we end up with a character who ultimately appears unnatural and unconvincing. He manages to loosen up in the more action-packed chase scenes of the film where he seems more at home, not surprising given his history in Clash of the Titans and Terminator Salvation, however these moments fail to save his consistently awful performance.
Although Worthington does well in them, the so called ‘action scenes’ of the film are a shambles with Leth often having to rely on shaky cameras and jumpy cinematography to add some kind of excitement to otherwise dull set pieces. The film never manages to convey any sense of real danger to the characters and, rather than injecting tension, the uninspired soundtrack merely overshadows the heist with a humdrum monotony; the excitement of the audience could be compared to the suspense one feels when writing a particularly long shopping list.
Ultimately the main problem with the film is it’s generic script and heavily cliched plot. Worthington might be able to portray some form of emotional depth if his character was more complex than an brick. The action might carry some shred of suspense or danger if the story didn’t rely on tired clichés. The villains are identifiable by bearing no redeeming qualities and the good guys carry no amount of depth other than, well, being the good guys. Man on a Ledge is a film brimming with childlike characterisations that are at best naive and at worst downright insulting; Genesis Rodriguez’s character in particular appears soley to have been added for a strip scene to break up the action.
Poor characterisation, boring set pieces and dull cinematography; Man on a Ledge is a textbook example of bad film making and is simply not worth your time. Avoid it.