Man on a Ledge

These days, all you really have to do to get your proverbial fifteen minutes of fame is to go out on a high ledge. That doesn't do me any good, since I'm scared of heights and also sometimes get dizzy spells, so I can't actually use that as my next attempt to get myself some more site traffic. It would probably be super-effective, though, at least if I did it in New York. Just ask Sam Worthington, formerly of Clash of the Titans and soon to be also of Wrath of the Titans.

I suppose it also helps that he throws money at one point, lots of it. And of course there's the whole "I've been framed!" angle, which works especially well if you've been framed by a rich, powerful, slightly slimy big businessman. In this case, that's Ed Harris, who I last reviewed in Gone Baby Gone, as real estate mogul David Englander. He says that Sam, or rather Nick Cassidy, aka the man on a ledge himself, stole his prized possession, the $40 million Monarch Diamond, while he was supposedly helping to guard it. Nick has some lame story about being jumped by two guys in masks, so you know which one of them gets the jail time.

The point is, he escapes -- in a rather unusual way which I won't spoil by mentioning it here -- and you can't blame him, because he was a cop before all this, and being a cop locked up in Sing Sing has to be about the most, er, awkward situation ever. His old partner, Mike (Anthony Mackie from The Adjustment Bureau), believes he's innocent, but his brother Joey (Jamie Bell of The Eagle) seems to want to just punch his lights out. He's barely started his 25 year sentence. According to Joey, their father died of shame after Nick's arrest. So it wouldn't be too much of a shock if after escaping, Nick checks into a fancy hotel, orders a lavish last meal, and jumps from the 21st story.

Of course it isn't nearly that simple. When Edward Burns shows up as Detective Dougherty to try to talk Nick down, Nick says he'll only talk to Detective Lydia Mercer, played by Elizabeth Banks, who was Betty Brant in the Spider-Man franchise. Dougherty calls her the Grim Reaper because a month ago, while trying to talk someone else down from a high place, the guy jumped and died before her eyes, so obviously she's the right person for the job here. She really is, though, because Nick didn't actually choose her for her negotiation skills. Or because she's pretty, either, though I suppose that doesn't hurt. Nick has a plan, you see, an incredibly detailed one, but then, he's had a lot of time in a small cell to think things over. Basically, though, it all boils down to the fact that while people are staring up at him, wondering if he'll jump (or even urging him to jump, sadly), they're not paying any attention to what's happening across the street at Englander Investments.

Now, the more minor players have more fun than minor players usually do, I suspect. Titus Welliver, who was in Gone Baby Gone with Ed Harris, plays Dante Marcus, the cop in charge of the overall scene, and gets to steal several scenes. Kyra Sedgwick is annoying tabloid-style reporter Susie Morales and gets to be particularly slimy, though it seems like some of her scenes must have been cut out. A random bit player who doesn't even get a name gets to do something really cool. But I can't really call it a suspense movie because there's not a lot of suspense, except of course for the obvious worry of whether Nick's going to fall or not. You never really believe he'll jump, but he leaps around like crazy up there, so you still worry. His amateur partners in crime get some fun lines as well -- it's probably not a bad depiction of what it would be like if a random guy and his girlfriend turned to crime -- but that, too, rather takes away from the suspense. And it doesn't help that you know who the bad guys are from the start.

It isn't a total loss, however, because all you need to do is focus on wondering how in the world they're going to pull this complex scheme off, which I guess is sort of suspense but not quite the kind the previews imply. The biggest problem is that it can't quite seem to decide if it's a serious movie with a little comedy, or a comedy with a serious backdrop. So three out of five is the best I can do. Nick sounds jarringly Australian a few times, but otherwise the acting is solid, if occasionally a trifle over the top. But during this generally disappointing time of the year, movie-wise, this is practically brilliant.

Image: 
Lydia prepares to overpower Nick and haul him bodily back inside.

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