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Man on a Ledge(2012)
An ex-cop and now wanted fugitive stands on the ledge of a high-rise building while a hard-living New York Police Department negotiator tries to talk him down. The longer they are on the ledge, the more she realizes that he might have an ulterior objective.
For more about Man on a Ledge and the Man on a Ledge Blu-ray release, see Man on a Ledge Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on May 31, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Anthony Mackie, Edward Burns, Titus Welliver
Director: Asger Leth
» See full cast & crew
Man on a Ledge Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, May 31, 2012
A man arrives at a tony midtown Manhattan hotel and checks in. He's obviously a professional, well dressed, but somehow emotionally distant, tamped down, not quite there. He gets to his room and orders a huge and lavish breakfast, and then in an odd display of post meal etiquette meticulously works his hotel room, wiping off every object he's touched. He then scribbles a quick note, takes a haltingly deep breath, opens the window and steps out on a ledge that surrounds the 21st floor. Potential suicide? That's obviously the implication in Man on a Ledge's well staged opening sequence, one that also introduces the viewer to the film's vertiginous use of overhead crane shots and some distressingly acrophobic shots that will get the adrenaline pumping and make palms perspire for anyone who doesn't feel especially safe gazing more than twenty stories down to what are most likely the extremely hard streets of New York City. Unfortunately once we're given the basic set up of Man on a Ledge, and after the film provides enough of its hero's back story to reveal that he's actually a cop who's been unjustly jailed on a trumped up charge, the film descends (no pun intended) into a pretty rote quasi-caper film where wronged policeman Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) has orchestrated a massive plan to prove his innocence with such savoir faire that about the only suspense generated is a "meta" quandary, where some viewers may be asking themselves, "How the frell did they ever shoot that?"
Man on a Ledge is one of those "high concept" (no pun intended, considering its setting) films that has an immediate "hook", but surrounds it with so many patently ridiculous machinations that it's hard to take any of it very seriously. We therefore have the wrongly accused cop (ever seen a movie with that kind of hero before?), a traumatized police negotiator named Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), whose previous attempt to talk down a putative jumper ended in tragedy (ever seen anything like that in a movie before?), and a scheming tycoon named David Englander (Ed Harris) whose nefarious plans have resulted in Cassidy's predicament in the first place (I won't repeat the question—the answer is obvious). What ends up being revealed, in a moment of no great surprise, is that Cassidy's decision to step out on a ledge is part of a grand plan to clear his name, with the help of his little brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey's girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez).
What is ultimately revealed after Man on a Ledge's cursory (albeit well done) set up which introduces the various characters is that Nick was framed for stealing a priceless diamond from Englander and was sentenced to 25 years in jail. Cassidy's father's death provides an opportunity for a desperate escape when he's allowed to attend the funeral, and that in turn gets Cassidy onto the ledge surrounding the 21st floor of Manhattan's Roosevelt Hotel. Soon we have Joey and Angie attempting to find out where Englander has stashed the diamond while Nick plays a game of cat and mouse with Lydia, as well as a couple of other tangential characters who have ulterior motives.
The major problem with Man on a Ledge can basically be boiled down to two questions: why and how? Why would Nick do something like step out on a ledge to distract attention? Wouldn't being a wrongly convicted felon (and ex-cop to boot) on the lam have distracted people enough so that Joey and Angie could go about their business? And how did all the pieces fall so perfectly into place so that Nick could not only escape from the funeral but end up on that ledge (not to mention a whole host of other minor—and major—plot points that ensue, all of which just fit together wonderfully like a magical jigsaw puzzle). To say that Man on a Ledge strains credulity is a bit of an understatement. This includes little items like Nick correctly forecasting all sorts of supposedly "random" things that happen during the course of the film, and for which he has evidently already come supplied with pre-planned solutions.
Man on a Ledge also is incredibly cliché ridden, to the point that anyone with an inkling of the basics of Filmmaking 101 is going to spot one of the bad guys within seconds of his appearance. How? Because he's supposedly a good guy. (This is really not a spoiler—this film telegraphs its supposed "twists" from a mile away.) And the ludicrous finale is like a mash up of every crime thriller stereotype you've ever seen. The film's climactic free fall (this time pun intended) also can be predicted from virtually the film's opening moments, for what are you going to do with a guy on a skyscraper if not have him jump at some point? The film also largely wastes a superb supporting cast, which aside from Harris also includes the always reliable Edward Burns as one of the cops trying to coax Nick back inside, and Kyra Sedgwick playing a kind of nasty television reporter, the sort of person that her Closer character Brenda Leigh Johnson would shut up in a big hurry.
Still there is something viscerally exciting about Man on a Ledge, if only from a technical standpoint. The overhead shots here are really terrifying and the Making Of featurette included on this Blu-ray shows quite clearly this isn't merely green screen magic—Worthington really is up there on a ledge, albeit with a safety harness and not one so precariously perched as it appears in the film. The incredible crane shots that veer and teeter out over Worthington throughout the film are a technical marvel and according to the featurette required a fair amount of expert engineering in order to work. Ultimately, though, it's a bunch of technical wizardry in support of a patently ridiculous story. Like the crowds assembled far below in midtown Manhattan staring up at Nick perched 21 stories above, audiences watching Man on a Ledge may be drawn by nothing other than the desire to see a disaster in the making.
Man on a Ledge Blu-ray, Video Quality
Man on a Ledge is one of the first Blu-ray releases from the new Lionsgate – Summit merger, and it arrives with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1. If this release is any indication, it augurs well for future outings from this new "mini major" (which indeed is beginning to look more and more like a "major major" with franchises like Twilight and now The Hunger Games under its aegis). This is a very sharp and filmic looking presentation which very accurately represents the cool ambience of the film. The image is clear and precise, and about the only artifacting of note is some fairly prevalent (albeit relatively minor as these things go) shimmer on a lot of the Manhattan buildings. Otherwise, fine object detail is extremely pleasing, colors are nicely saturated, though the film is on the whole quite dark with sometimes low contrast which occasionally leads to murky shadow detail.
Man on a Ledge Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Man on a Ledge's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lulls the listener into a false sense of relative quiet, with some fairly quiet (for Manhattan) midtown sonics before things get into some really blistering aural activity in the first flashback sequence, where Nick is in the middle of a prison yard fight. Though some of the rest of the soundtrack might seem tame by comparison, this is an incredibly well wrought piece of sound mixing that is especially impressive in terms of spatial dynamics—listen for example when Nick is on the ledge how artfully city noises are spread throughout the sound field with clear separation by distance, certainly something not all that easy to achieve. There's incredible immersion, albeit sometimes subtle, throughout this track, with some fine directionality afforded not only lots of the cityscape sound effects but dialogue as well. LFE is limited mostly to some gunshots as well as the brooding low frequency score which subliminally adds to the sense of dread.
Man on a Ledge Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Man on a Ledge Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As a technical achievement, Man on a Ledge is aces. Unfortunately, the story that wizardry supports is just flat out ludicrous, and suspension of disbelief is required at such extreme levels you may want to throw yourself off the nearest skyscraper. This Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent, however, so just to revel in the fantastic crane shots if nothing else, Man on a Ledge might be a worthwhile rental.
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Man on a Ledge Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Man on a Ledge Blu-ray - April 10, 2012
Lionsgate Home Entertainment will bring the Summit Entertainment release Man on a Ledge to Blu-ray in May. This action-thriller focuses on the conflict that unfolds when a police psychologist (Elizabeth Banks, Role Models) tries to prevent an ex-cop-turned-escaped ...
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