Wednesday, February 1, 2012

“Man on a Ledge” – Movie in a theater.

It’s good to see that Hollywood hasn’t lost its sense of humor and, by that, I mean by making completely preposterous movies. You remember those movies – they were the ones where the good guys never got hit by bullets or the characters always seemed to know everything about Aztecs or Denise Richards is a nuclear scientist. It’s also the signature of lazy writing – rather than writing something plausible or at least explaining some of the preposterous occurrences, they simply move along as if everything is perfectly fine. Some may argue that this isn’t laziness, but simply writing something entertaining. They would site John McClane in Die Hard. Or every character Steven Seagal has ever played. Or Angelina Jolie. “It’s just supposed to be fun and entertaining,” they’ll say. And, you know, sometimes they are right – if it was still 1989.

Man on a Ledge is a bit of a throwback to those movies, except without having the novelty of a 1980’s action flick. Plus, they conveniently leave out the comic relief that made you overlook or tolerate (or just flat miss) the preposterous. In Man on a Ledge, Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) stands on a ledge. He’s also an ex-cop, accused of stealing a $40 million dollar diamond from a real estate mogul (Ed Harris), and has just escaped from prison while attending his father’s funeral. I know this isn’t completely preposterous (hell, it’s practically a staple of scripts at this point), but it’s well on its way. Almost immediately after the opening credits roll, the writers demonstrate their idiocy by having Nick wipe down everything in his hotel room to avoid leaving fingerprints, then show us Nick using the bathroom sink and climbing through the window without wiping them down. I know this can be explained simply by saying they didn’t need to show us this, but then I could make the same argument for them showing us the wiping in the first place. You can’t have it both ways – it’s either stupid one way or lazy the other. This is further compounded when the negotiator (Elizabeth Banks) “tricks” him into handling a cigarette, because the cops couldn’t find any prints in the room, followed by Nick acknowledging that she now has his prints. I’m sorry, did the writers just render almost everything that happened prior to the cigarette a complete waste of time? If he was willing to tell them who he was, then why the charade of wiping down the prints?

On the other side of the plot, and street, his brother (Jamie Bell) and brother’s girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) are breaking into the Harris’ office to steal the diamond in order to prove that Nick never stole it in the first place (again, Hollywood staple). The whole reason Nick is on the ledge is to provide a distraction for the heist, but he also needs to draw attention to it in order to help pull off the heist. This is the truly preposterous part of the film, but we would normally look past this if the movie contained other components, like lots of action, comic relief, or sex scenes. Sadly, the closest we ever come to any of those items is Rodriguez in her underwear. I’m not complaining about this, as she is ridiculously hot, but this in itself made no sense. If you were undertaking a task requiring athletic activity, and were very well-endowed, wouldn’t you wear a sports bra to keep those puppies under control rather than Victoria’s Secret lace underwear? Not to mention that your partner is going to have a lot of trouble performing his duties after seeing you strip down in front of him (I think this is really why Bell didn’t want to crawl through a duct at one point).

Eventually, the situation devolves into the cops who framed Nick trying to kill him, Harris trying to help them while retaining his diamond, and Banks (as well as another cop, Edward Burns) eventually believing in Nick and helping him out. Like I said, staple, staple, staple.

I won’t spoil the end, but the writers toss in a couple of twists, reveal the entirety of Nick’s plan, and he doesn’t spend the entire movie on the ledge (does he jump or not?). Compounding the problem that is this movie, the two Eds are given far too little screen time, and Banks’ character is as one-dimensional as can be. Bell and Rodriguez are the best part of the film, showing a good chemistry and providing the only bit of comedy through their banter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to distract us from all of the silly crap in the film, including the fact that Nick was convicted on evidence including the assumption that they never found the diamond because he cut it up into pieces too small to identify and sold them off. Yet, nobody (including his police friends) ever wondered where the money was or if those tiny pieces were even sellable. In a word, preposterous.

Rating: Ask for eight dollars back. Preposterous is better than Cameron Diaz. Or 3-D movies. Or Bridesmaids.

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