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Movie Guy

February 1, 2012

‘Man on Ledge’ starts strong, plummets into mediocrity

— The new thriller, “Man on a Ledge” starts off at a brisk pace, offers up an intriguing mystery and gets the tension going early so that the audience is quickly sitting on the edge of their seats. It’s a great start, but unfortunately, all these good elements fall by the wayside as the film lurches toward its ludicrous, coincidence-filled finale. In movie math, film endings are more important that their beginnings, so the final assessment is that “Man on a Ledge” is ultimately just another mediocre crime thriller.

Sam Worthington stars as Nick Cassidy, a disgraced police officer now serving a 25 year sentence for a crime that he claims he didn’t commit. Nick breaks out of prison, checks into the Roosevelt hotel and orders something to eat. Then he takes a deep breath and steps out onto the window ledge some twenty stories above street level. It’s not long before a crowd gathers to watch the obviously suicidal man and a police negotiator (Elizabeth Banks) is sent to try and talk the man down.

If you’ve seen the TV commercials, you know that Nick isn’t contemplating suicide as much as he’s trying to stage a diversion for a daring scheme. It turns out that just across the street, Nick’s brother (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) are breaking in to an ultra-secure vault. They are looking for the diamond that Nick supposedly stole. If they find it, they can prove Nick’s innocence as well as extract a little payback on the guy who put Nick behind bars.

It’s a convoluted plot, which is to be expected in a film that’s equal parts mystery and crime thriller. It’s also something of a character study, as we learn little bits and pieces about why our hero is out on the ledge, as well as the backstory behind the police negotiator. The problem is that while these disparate elements are intriguing in their own right, they don’t quite gel into one cohesive story. You’ll leave the theater thinking about the implausible ways that the film was forced to wrap up, instead of how much fun you had watching the thriller.

That’s a shame, because the film is a lot of fun. Sam Worthington makes a great, everyman character. Kyra Sedgwick also amuses as a decidedly not-Latino reporter. Playing the bad guy, Ed Harris, while a little over-the-top for my personal tastes, is always an engaging presence up on the big screen. The bottom line is that there is a lot that goes right in “Man on a Ledge.” It’s the ending that slips and sends the whole endeavor crashing down to earth.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.

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