Movie review: Man on a Ledge

Jan 27, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Hot and scruffy Sam Worthington, who plays an ex-cop on the run, takes a leap of faith in hopes of clearing his tarnished name in Man on a Ledge.

Man on a Ledge

When you're convicted of a crime you didn't commit and destined to spend life in prison, sometimes the only option left is no option at all. Does that mean our hunky Avatar hero plans to commit suicide in this fast-paced action thriller? We hope not!

But that is what Sam Worthington's character Nick Cassidy, the ex-cop and now ex-con, wants everyone to believe in Man on a Ledge. When Cassidy steps out onto the ledge of a high-rise hotel in New York City, almost everyone thinks he really does want to take a leap.

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Don't jump!

Man on a Ledge

Enter Elizabeth Banks who plays Lydia Mercer, the hungover cop psychologist who has a record for letting people splat. When Nick requests her for his case, it's unclear whether either of them will get out of this alive. Banks is cute and gets the job done, but her sex appeal and comedic range are underused. We fell in love with her in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and we're missing some of that spunkiness here.

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Cassidy's ex-partner is played by the ever versatile Anthony Mackie. Fast becoming one of our favorite Hollywood actors, he, too, is underused. We loved him in What's Your Number? and Real Steel, but Man on a Ledge falls too short on plot to give Mackie something to write home about.

Kyra Sedgwick plays the preening reporter who knows she's as annoying as everyone thinks she is. It's a hoot to watch her ham into the camera; her much-needed jokes bring a welcome pause when the audience gets just about as much vertical street as it can take.

Falling out of your seat

Man on a Ledge

Seasick could be an aftereffect to watching this film because sometimes if feels like you're on The Batman ride rather than in a theater. If you like swooning camera moves – and perhaps The Batman effect was part of the filmmaker's goal -- this will definitely tap your fear of heights.

That said, there aren't only high-jump stunts in this film. While our hero negotiates his position on a windy ledge, his brother, played by Jamie Bell and his brother's girlfriend, played by Genesis Rodriguez, proceed to carry out the heist of a lifetime.

Unfortunately for Worthington and Banks, the on-screen chemistry of the heist crew overshadows the main plot, making Rodriguez and Bell the best part of the film.

But with a villain like Ed Harris (all he has to do is glance at you and you feel it in your knees), there's no telling how this harebrained scheme is going to end.

What this film lacks in plot twists, it makes up for in height thrills. If you like heist films like Ocean's Eleven, The Italian Job and Inside Man and movies with cops in sticky situations, like Die Hard, this might be up your alley… er, fire escape.

Bottom line: Despite cute and scruffy Sam Worthington, Man on a Ledge is a better rental than a theater pick with a little bit of heist action and fun with Elizabeth Banks.

Photo credits: Summit Entertainment