Man on a Ledge (Summit Entertainment)

man-ledge snI felt nothing while watching it, and as I was leaving the theater, I could feel the film fade from my memory at an alarming rate.

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This…is a movie. I saw it in a theater, projected on a screen. I know that it had something to do with a man who stands on a ledge. I also vaguely remember some kind of a heist going on at the same time. In many ways, Man on a Ledge is the worst kind of movie. It isn’t particularly bad. In fact, I would say it is less flawed than Haywire, which I saw the night before. However, Haywire had elements that I really liked, which made the film challenging, or at least interesting. Man on a Ledge is an entire movie of scenes which are simply not terrible. I felt nothing while watching it, and as I was leaving the theater I was panicking, dreading this review, feeling the film fade from my memory at an alarming rate.

Everything about Man on a Ledge reminds me of other movies. Movies about police negotiators tend to get me excited. I love the battles of wits that play out when one character has to very tactfully barter with another. It’s more interesting when there are hostages at stake rather than a potential suicide, but the tension is of a similar nature. Remember The Negotiator with Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey? It’s a total B movie and not very original, but I really like it. The film this most resembles is Spike Lee’s Inside Man, for many reasons I will not get into because I think they get a bit spoiler-y. Inside Man is no classic, but everything about it eclipses Man on a Ledge, with ease and grace.

Even the title throws me for a loop. I always have to remind myself that I’m not trying to say Man on Wire, the insanely badass documentary from a few years ago. There are nods in the film to Die Hard, and the most clumsy, obvious reference to Dog Day Afternoon that could possibly be made. I didn’t go in wanting to think of these other films but I had no choice. One line recalled The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, possibly my favorite film of all time. You don’t want me comparing that to your lame thriller, which is completely lacking in thrills.

Sam Worthington has gotten a lot of crap, and let’s face it: He deserves it. The man has the potential to be good; he just chooses not to. The first time I saw him was in the Australian killer crocodile movie Rogue (my favorite killer croc movie, for those keeping track). I think in American films, he is working so hard to cover up his Aussie accent (and not succeeding) that he can’t actually focus on giving a performance. Worse, in this film he is given a very bland role. Allegedly he is the lead, yet he doesn’t actually do anything in the movie. His whole goal is to distract people from the heist being perpetrated by his brother, played by Jamie Bell. Bell is the active protagonist and he’s also charming, winning the audience over (the audience, not me, although I respected his attempt).

Man on a Ledge is filled with would-be suspenseful moments, none of which worked for me. I’m terribly afraid of heights, so this movie should have had me curled up and crying for my mother. This film would be boring no matter what, but it feels extra boring coming out so soon after Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which features a superb sequence involving our hero on the outside of a very tall building. (That film is still in theaters.) There is more tension in 30 seconds of that set piece than in the entirety of Man on a Ledge, and in Mission: Impossible, there’s a whole movie, with other exciting sequences, happening around that one. Why would anyone choose to see Man on a Ledge? | Sean Lass

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