As befitting the blunt dullness of the title, director Asger Leth’s first feature somehow manages the neat trick of being curiously watchable without ever crossing the line into remotely interesting. Shot with a pronounced absence of scope and often riotously miscast, the preposterous Man On A Ledge unfolds in that weird nowhere zone often occupied by made-for-cable procedurals that only ever seem appealing in marathon form on hungover Saturday afternoons.
Sam Worthington, such a blank slate of bland ruggedness that it once again took me half the movie to remember where I’d seen him before, stars as an honest cop framed for the theft of something called (hold your applause) “The Monarch Diamond”—a $40 million gem belonging to Ed Harris’ Trump-y real estate blowhard.
After escaping from prison, Worthington acts as advertised, stepping out on the ledge of Harris’ five-star hotel, stirring up a media circus and proclaiming his innocence. Elizabeth Banks turns up as the boozy, cynical cop (what did I tell you about the casting?) charged with talking him down, while a couple blocks away Worthington’s brother Jamie Bell and his hotcha girlfriend (the gloriously named Genesis Rodgriguez) are working some sort of high-tech heist that will presumably make sense later on in the movie.
Meanwhile we’ve got Anthony Mackie and Deadwood’s Titus Welliver as a couple of shady cops with agendas that don’t remain hidden for long thanks to Leth’s spoiler-iffic, ominous closeups. Credulity is stretched past the breaking point upon the arrival of Kyra Sedgwick as a Latina reporter, and whenever Edward Burns pretends to be a tough guy.
This is a very silly film, but kudos to the production designers for making authentic New York City locations look like much cheaper Toronto fakes. The 20-story ledge upon which Worthington and Banks spend half the picture chatting is about as believable as those sitcom soundstages we saw whenever Jerry Seinfeld went outside.
Director Asger Leth—who bizarrely enough is the son of Lars von Trier’s idol Jorgen Leth, of Five Obstructions fame—should probably use this as a calling card to score years worth of work helming pilots for the USA Network. But I must shamefully admit that I was curious to see what became of “The Monarch Diamond.”
Probably because I was hungover.