Man on a Ledge is the kind of movie where you need to check your brain at the door and enjoy a brief respite from reality. The plot is ludicrous, entirely unbelievable. But it's fun to watch it play out, especially with a very good ensemble cast. I'd spent many weeks during the previous awards season watching serious movies and art flicks. Great to step away and get a fun popcorn film in. I'm sure Man on a Ledge is getting pooped on by the critical literati, but I'd bet every one of them was in some way entertained.
Half the fun is avoiding spoilers. The film unravels a rather detailed plot, so I won't give anything away here. Sam Worthington stars as Nick Cassidy, a former cop imprisoned for a crime he swears was a set-up. Jump forward and Nick has checked himself into a corner suite of New York's famous Roosevelt Hotel. He declares himself a jumper, claims his innocence, and specifically requests hostage negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks). It isn't long before Lydia realizes that Nick is manipulating her. There's something else going on that Nick's little stunt is distracting all the watchful eyes from. You'll have to see Man on a Ledge for the big reveal. But it does involve his brother (Jamie Bell), his brother's girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez), a powerful real estate tycoon (Ed Harris), and an intrepid reporter (Kyra Sedgwick).
Man on a Ledge does not stand up to scrutiny, so don't waste any time analyzing the plot. It's implausible, period. That's what makes it pure popcorn entertainment. You feast on the spectacle and see where it goes. There's some action, good chemistry between the characters, a little eye candy, everything needed for a good matinee. I have to say it felt good to walk out of a screening and not have to think about the meaning of a film. Don't get me wrong the filmmakers take the subject matter seriously, but they're just not gunning for Oscars.
Sam Worthington deserves major props for making this movie work. He has this knack for making the absurd entertaining. Whether it is Avatar, Clash of the Titans, or Man on a Ledge; you absolutely buy his loner character in an absurd situation. It's very easy to look silly in roles like this. But if your star is believable, then everything else kind of falls into place. There's a scene where he's cajoling the Elizabeth Banks character to trust him. If you read these lines on paper - they would be awful - because it's terrible dialogue. Then Sam delivers them, and the audience buys it. Willing suspension of disbelief is earned in spades by this guy.
This film is not like Phone Booth, an awful Colin Farrel film from a few years back. Yes, the general premise is sort of the same, but Man on a Ledge has quite a few parallel story elements. Not a must see by any means, but definitely worth an afternoon escape.