Fourteen Hours is a tense, straightforward story of a man standing on a ledge high above the streets of New York City and the consequences as crowds watch below and the police try to save the man. Fast forward some 60 years, and we've got 2012's Man on a Ledge, a movie that uses the same premise, adds a whole lot of unbelievable background before degenerating into a stupid action movie. Yeah for ridiculous!
Just days since escaping from prison and a 25-year sentence, ex-cop Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) rents a room in the Roosevelt Hotel and promptly steps out onto the window ledge some 20 stories up. He's almost immediately spotted by someone on the streets below and within minutes there are police and fire department on-site to talk him down. Cassidy requests a specific negotiator, Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), and the stand-off begins. Questions immediately arise though. What are Cassidy's intentions? What exactly is his end-game? Across the street, Nick's brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), and his girlfriend, Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), are using the distraction to break into a heavily guarded vault owned by real estate mogul, David Englander (Ed Harris). How does it all tie together though?
What's good about this movie? For starters, the premise alone for its originality. It has tones of the original Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, and that's never a bad thing. A media circus and how people respond? It's hard to mess that up. From high up in the Roosevelt Hotel, Worthington's Cassidy looks down on somewhat organized chaos. Crowds gather, on-lookers taking pictures and filming video, some willing him to jump, others hoping he steps back into the hotel room. From director Asger Leth, those are the parts that work. A guy pushed to his limits deciding to jump or not to jump? The most basic of premises that does add a layer of tension, questioning and worry.
What's bad about this movie? Basically everything added on top of that story. There's just too much going on that tries to top off the premise of a man standing on a ledge about to jump. SPOILERS STOP READING SPOILERS Cassidy was set-up as a dupe in a "robbery" gone wrong, his goal a multi-million dollar diamond belonging to who? Harris' Englander of course. Cassidy obviously claims his innocence and is trying to do so in the most ridiculous, convoluted way possible. His brother and his girlfriend -- amateur thieves apparently? -- break into Harris' building and manage to break into his supposedly impregnable vault. END OF SPOILERS It's just all too much, ruining an at least somewhat interesting premise. Unfortunately, it gets dumber as the story goes along.
I like Sam Worthington. I do, but his selection in movies could use with some brushing up. He just isn't given much to do -- literally standing on a ledge much of the movie -- and leaves little impression. As the negotiator coming off a negotiation gone horrifically wrong, Banks is fairly solid as Lydia Mercer. Bell and Rodriguez are painful to watch, a young couple fighting like a bunch of teenagers. Oh, and they're robbing an impregnable vault with heavy security at the same time. Rodriguez is not a strong actress, and seems to be there to wear a low-cut shirt that shows off her cleavage in a red push-up bra. Not a complaint, just an observation. Harris is wasted as he sneers through his part with Anthony Mackie playing Cassidy's former partner, Edward Burns as Mercer's fellow negotiator, Titus Welliver as the on-site police commander, and Kyra Sedgwick as a story-seeking field reporter.
Even through all the holes in the storyline, I still had hope for this story as it developed. But by the end of the story -- and pardon the pun -- but this one falls off the cliff. What was mildly believable becomes ridiculous quickly. People start jumping from building to building and ledge to ledge, chasing from kitchen to stairwells and hotel rooms, and then BAM! Twists galore! None of it really comes together though, leaving the premise a somewhat enjoyable but ultimately disappointing end result. Too bad.
Man on a Ledge <---trailer (2012): **/****