Monday, 6 February 2012



If you're not a fan of lengthy shots pointing straight down at the tarmac from a great height then this breathtakingly silly thriller probably isn't for you. If you get dizzy and have to grip the armrests every time it looks like someone's going to fall a long way into the cold hard concrete, then you really should go and see something else. For my part I was laughing too much as it's such an absurd and overly convoluted plot that the best thing to do while watching it is not to sit and analyse it, but just to go along with it. Because while it may smash the implausibility light barrier into a thousand pieces, it's a hell of a lot of fun (unless you are actually a confirmed vertigo sufferer).

The key to Man On A Ledge is in the title: a man (Sam Worthington) checks into the 21st floor of a plush New York hotel, and promptly climbs out of the window onto the foot-wide ledge. Turns out he's an ex-cop AND an escaped convict, inside for a $40 million jewel heist, but having fled a month ago while on temporary release for his father's funeral. Somewhat inevitably, crowds gather outside the hotel, traffic is blocked off, the police are called in: and crucially attention is diverted away from what's going on inside the Englander Corporation just across the road, where evil Ed Harris is masterminding a huge property deal....

Maybe that's too much of a spoiler: the tagline on the UK poster is "The Ultimate Deception Needs The Ultimate Distraction" but it would probably be better if we didn't know going in that it was a distraction. Nevertheless the movie still springs a few decent surprises, although some of the details of the plan (particularly one involving a skateboard) would be thought too silly in the realm of a Mission Impossible film. But the film's highlights are the high-up hijinks on ledges and rooftops, culminating in the ridiculous final stunt, at which point I think I did grab the armrest (something I don't believe I can remember doing since the opening reel of Cliffhanger).

Man On A Ledge is probably too silly and unbelievable to be taken seriously, but as a dumb popcorn action thriller it's a lot of fun and well worth a look. It's got a decent cast: Elizabeth Banks, Ed Burns, Jamie Bell, William Sadler (who I'm shocked and ashamed to say I didn't even recognise!), it's efficiently done and the don't-look-down ledge sequences, particularly a moment with a helicopter, are enormously effective. Little to think about, but very enjoyable.


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