(CBS) Director Asger Leth's first feature film dangles precariously close to the edge, and despite valiant attempts by a big-name cast to rescue it, succumbs to its many flaws.
The insipid thriller "Man on a Ledge" plunges into a deep abyss from which there is no way back.
The film is based on the story of disgraced police officer Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington), who is willing to go out on limb and ledge to prove he's innocent of the crime he's accused of. The movie is so full of cliches, ambiguities, and gaping holes, one wonders how any studio gave it a green light. Known for his documentary work, Leth must also be a first-rate salesman to get the project passed.
He doesn't deliver, though. He doesn't even come close.
The only thing he delivers on is the filming; he points his camera out a very high window of a midtown Manhattan hotel to get the perspective of the ground below. The rest gets old and a little irritating after a while.
The film opens with Worthington coming out of a subway and checking into an upscale New York city hotel. We're told he'll skip the upgrade he's offered to stay in the room with the better view. Cut to a scene where he's feasting on room-service lobster and champagne like it's his last meal. Technically, it may be.
He then takes to the ledge of his 21st floor hotel room after penning a quick note and wiping his fingerprints off anything he's touched.
There, he stands teetering, on the edge - but not really, since it's actually a pretty wide ledge. The point of all this? He's been accused and wrongly imprisoned for 25 years for stealing a $40 million dollar diamond that belongs to Trump-like, avaricious real estate tycoon, David Englander, played well by Ed Harris.
The plot to vindicate him involves standing out on a ledge to divert attention from a scheme he and his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) have concocted to steal the diamond Harris had hidden away so he could claim on his insurance.
They plan to turn it over to the cops. Not just any cop, mind you. They want the help of tarnished negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), who is recovering from a failed attempt to stop a jumper. Cassidy asks for her by name, while up on the ledge and she is assigned to the case. A smart talker, she realizes there's more to Cassidy and his apparent "suicide" attempt that meets the eye.
What she, or anyone else on the scene, doesn't know is that brother Joey and his voluptuous Latina girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) are across the street in Englander's jewelry store carrying out the elaborate high-stakes heist.
We are never told how these two seemingly ordinary people are able to obtain and operate an extensive array of surveillance equipment and rappel down elevator shafts. What's their background? How did they prepare?
Left dangling, the audience never does get the answer, though quite honestly, most of them will give up caring long before the credits roll.
Cutting back and forth between the heist, negotiations with Mercer and the directions Cassidy is giving his brother through a concealed phone and earpiece, the movie becomes farcical and utterly predictable. Long before the end, you know exactly what's coming. Not good for a suspense thriller.
Banks is all right as the broad with an attitude and a slick sense of humor and Harris is convincing as the powerful magnate out for his own self preservations, but Worthington is utterly unconvincing. One has to wonder whether shooting his own scenes on the ledge sapped his performance.
A weak screenplay, however, is the crux of the problem and that's something that Leth was never able to get a handle on. The result is a limp high-wire act that leaves no one holding his breath.