21 February 2012

Meet on the Ledge

I've been striking out with women at the cinema lately (in Black and in the Fifth, more specifically) so I decided to give a man a try tonight; Man on a Ledge, more specifically. And fortunately, it was just what I needed: no great masterpiece but a solid thriller that kept me entertained for its 100-minute duration. Some spoilers follow, although to be honest, this film is rather predictable.

Previously on Prison Break... Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is told by his lawyer that his last appeal has failed and that he is doomed to 25 more years in prison. Oh, and his father is about to die, but Nick's buddy and former cop partner Mike (Anthony Mackie) promises he will swing it so that Nick can attend the funeral. But scarcely has the coffin been lowered into the ground before Nick is fighting with his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and escaping from the prison guards.

One month later... A cleaner, better-dressed version of Nick checks into the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, orders Champagne and a lavish meal in his room, before cleaning off his fingerprints and climbing out the window onto the ledge. Why? It sounds more like a logic problem than the plot of a movie but there we go. Most of the action takes place while this eponymous man stands on the eponymous ledge, threatening to jump, drawing a crowd and flirting with Lydia, the negotiator whose presence he demanded on account of her looking a lot like Elizabeth Banks and on account of her being in the headlines for having failed to stop her previous charge from jumping off Brooklyn Bridge.

Ledge without a man
But that's OK; it's a nice block. I know the Roosevelt well because it sits between J. Crew and the offices of Sterling Cooper on Madison Avenue. In fact, when I walked past one day towards the end of 2010, I noticed a lot of police cars and a giant inflatable cushion. When I posted the photo on Flickr, I wondered whether it was a movie set or an emergency and it appears to have been this movie, although I don't think they were filming at the time. There were crowds of people gathering (perhaps hoping for an autograph?), although unlike the hilariously cliched crowds in the movie, they were not encouraging anyone to jump or heralding anyone as a hero.

Anyway, it transpires that Nick was imprisoned for stealing a giant diamond from some Trump-esque, property tycoon baddie (Ed Harris), who sits in his gold-plated office counting his money and his office and preemptively celebrating his next property coup. Not at all coincidentally, The Baddie owns the Roosevelt and has his diamond vault in the building next door, so Nick is planning to create a mammoth distraction on his perch, allowing Joey and his girlfriend to do the necessary to really steal the mega diamond and thereby prove he didn't steal it first time round. The main role of Joey's girlfriend in all this is to wear a skimpy top and to have big boobs, although she other performs other useful tasks such as bouncing around in her underwear while trying to wriggle into a leather catsuit, and swearing in Spanish.

While this is going on, Nick attempts to win Lydia's trust, and the audience learns that there are many potentially corrupt cops. Is Nick's buddy Michael really on his side? And was the NYPD really the only place that would offer Glenn Childs a job after he dropped out of the race to be Cook County's state's attorney? And where did he get all that hair from? Some of these questions may be answered, although no one explains for what exactly Sam Worthington's dialogue coach was paid, given his accent drifts from Aussie to general American and back again throughout (I'm sure Russell Crowe could help with that).

The acting was fairly mediocre and the script suggested the writers may have been taking the film a little too seriously--I did laugh a few times but at the ridiculousness of it all or at the cheesiness of yet another gratuitous close-up of the girlfriend's chest. I have liked Banks in other films but she didn't have a lot to work with here, nor did Bell, and nor was Worthington especially charismatic or sympathetic. Still, Man on a Ledge was exactly what I felt like tonight, and I am glad I finally broke the chain of disappointing movies.

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