Thursday, February 09, 2012

REVIEW: Man on a Ledge (2012)

I almost passed up screening this one due to its dismal rating on RottenTomatoes (35%) and low-to-no attendance during its theatre run, and for once I gotta say I enjoy my otherwise-annoying tendency to go against the grain. No one here's walking away with a post-party at Spago's, but it's one of the more straight-forward entertaining films I've seen lately.

The story, which I'll admit pro'lly didn't burn a whole lot of brain cells to type down, introduces us to a man who after checking into a fancy hotel and having himself a big pricey meal steps out of his room's window and onto the titular fear factor. We quickly learn that he's a former cop who was wrongfully busted and sent to jail, from which a daring escape lead to his vertiginous predicament. While the media and passers-by gather to see a show and the authorities scramble to avoid one, the real reason for his suicidal behavior is set in motion.

"I was just kidding. There's no spider in here!"

Again this little thing is certainly not award-worthy, especially with the sheer number of goofs and continuity mistakes that pile up form start to finish. But it's absolutely refreshing in that it deliberately avoids being dark and grim like so many of the thrillers we keep getting over and over with the same formula and sense of paranoia. It's far from a comedy, and certainly not an Ocean's wannabe, but the drama is constantly punctuated by moments of pitch-perfect humor and engaging bits of action that's just impossible to resist.

The real fun though is watching an embarrassing array of rock-solid fun to watch actors who when Combined do not even equal what Nic Cage made for any of his last 10 stinkers. Sam Worthington, one of the fastest rising starts of the last 5 years, keeps impressing me with his ability to juggle big-business roles with as many smaller projects as he can (including this one). Elizabeth Banks and Jamie Bell display a contagious fun playing cliché'd roles that lesser actors would simply phone in, Titus Welliver delivers his trademark douchebag to a Tee, Anthony Mackie keeps surfing the Hurt Locker wave as much as he can and my personal favorite Edward Burns adds that perfect mix of antagonism and humor like only he can craft.

"James Bond meets Jersey Shore. Now there's a concept..."

No matter the predictable story and sometimes cartoonesque characters, it never lets you get bored and sustains a tight pace for a quick 100-minute runtime. Mostly because it boasts a perfect sense of proportion; this is a small story with a very confined setting (95 % of the film takes place in no more than one square block) and brings along the feel of a small film made with a lot of fun. Although with a price tag of $42M, I confess I would've expect a much grander spectacle, or at least 3D which would be perfect for a film about a guy running around on a ledge 21 stories high.

Sad that it had to come out so soon after Brett Ratner's not-surprisingly lousy Tower Heist which follows the same nugget - a heist by reps of the 99% who aim to shove it to the evil 1%- and I do sincerely hope DVD watchers will give it a go. It's the kind of flick that even though you know miles ahead what's coming, you still wanna see it come because it's just damn cool to. So screw bad reviews, give this one a try!

Final Word: 7/10

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