A man walks into the Roosevelt Hotel and checks into a room on the 21st floor. He gives a hundred-dollar bill to the bellhop, enjoys a lobster dinner and a bottle of champagne, wipes the room clean of any fingerprints, and then opens the window and climbs out.
Sam Worthington stars as Nick Cassidy, a convicted felon (and former NYPD officer) that has recently escaped from prison. He’s standing on a ledge high above the streets of New York City, and when the police arrive on the scene, he refuses to speak to anyone except Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), an alcoholic police negotiator struggling with depression.
It’s difficult to go into more detail without divulging some of the film’s best-kept secrets, but what begins as a suicide attempt slowly reveals itself to be a much more elaborate scheme involving a sinister billionaire real estate mogul (Ed Harris), a pair of thieves (Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez), and Cassidy’s former partner (Anthony Mackie).
The majority of the movie takes place on the ledge, or just inside the hotel room, resulting in the bulk of the film being carried by Worthington and Banks. As usual, Worthington struggles to hide his Australian accent, which becomes even more noticeable during some of the more emotional dialogue exchanges, but this is easily balanced out by a fantastic performance from Banks, as the disgraced cop who sees Cassidy as her shot at redemption.
The supporting cast is solid, but forgettable, mostly due to the fact that they’re not given much to do. Mackie’s role is terribly underwritten, particularly when you take into account how pivotal his character becomes, but Harris has fun chewing the scenery as the bad guy, and the banter between Bell and Rodriguez provides plenty of relief while elevating Rodriguez’s role above the requisite eye-candy (which she also provides).
With plenty of twists that will keep audiences scratching their heads and an edge-of-your-seat climax, Man On a Ledge is the first big surprise of the 2012 film season, revealing itself to be much better than its premise, and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10