Sam reaches great heights

SAM WORTHINGTON stars in MAN ON A LEDGE
SAM WORTHINGTON stars in MAN ON A LEDGE

SOME films have titles that give you an idea of what you’re about to get.

Jaws is about a massive pair of shiny teeth attached to an equally massive shark, Brief Encounter is about, well, a brief encounter and Man on a Ledge is – shockingly – about a man standing on a ledge.

This slightly tepid thriller stars Sam Worthington as Nick Cassidy, a cop sentenced to 25 years behind bars for a crime he claims he didn’t commit.

A man wronged is not an earth-shattering concept so what better way to inject some excitement into proving his innocence than by perching him precariously on a window sill some 20 odd floors above downtown Manhattan?

It sounds thrilling, but this is a film that knows its limits. It’s not trying to change the world or educate and illuminate; instead Man on a Ledge sets out to entertain and it does so to a large extent. Some preposterous plotting means you’ll need to show the film a fair share of goodwill but if you embrace the ludicrous, it’s brainlessly entertaining. After all, doesn’t every edgy thriller need a shot of a healthy, young female burglar in fluorescent pink underwear to drive along the plot? And when it comes to rubber-neckers lining the streets and corrupt cops ‘from da Bronx’, just about every cliché box is ticked.

Performance-wise, its stars aren’t really tested but do enough to make you care just a little bit. Worthington gets a chance to flex his action muscles in a ramped up finale, Ed Harris is a suitably Donald Trump-esque bad guy, Elizabeth Banks does well as a troubled negotiator having a bad day and Jamie Bell gets to hone his generic American accent – you know what they say, practice makes perfect.

But for all its absurdity, debut director Asger Leth has managed to create something passably tense here and this is largely thanks to his stomach-turning vertigo camera work, and when you find out Worthington actually shot many of his scenes from a great height, it does make one empathise. That being said, if the thought of dangling from a great height makes you feel a bit queasy, you’ll be glad this isn’t in 3D...