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Man on a Ledge (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 102 minutes

OK for children.

When I saw the trailer, which shows Sam Worthington standing on the ledge outside his hotel room far above a New York City street while Elizabeth Banks is trying to talk him back into the room, this was not a film I wanted to see.

But this isn't about some sicky threatening to commit suicide. There's method in Worthington's madness and it's really a caper and revenge film with Worthington as a cop who escaped from jail after being tried and imprisoned for stealing a diamond from evil mogul Ed Harris.

Director Asger Leth gets terrific performances from Worthington, Banks, Harris, Jamie Bell as Worthington's brother, and Genesis Rodriguez as Bell's girlfriend. Kyra Sedgwick gives an entertaining performance as a fame-seeking TV reporter, and Edward Burns is effective as a cop who is replaced by Banks as the primary negotiator to get Worthington off the ledge. Anthony Mackie does a good job as Worthington's former partner on the force who seems sympathetic to Sam's plight.

The script by Pablo F. Fenjves has been bouncing around for quite awhile. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura wanted to option it while he was president of Warner Bros. It passed through MGM and Paramount Vantage before di Bonventura finally sold Summit Entertainment on the project.

Apparently Worthington did actually get out on the ledge of the 21st floor of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York and shot some scenes out there, 200 feet above 45th Street, even though most of the scenes were shot in the studio when he was only 8 feet off the ground. Worthington had a fear of heights, so the first time he crawled out on the ledge was a shot that was printed. Producer Mark Vahradian said, "…that was…valuable actually shooting there. you could see that he knew he was up 200 feet in the air, and we especially wanted to get that on the first moments that he stepped out there, 'cause he'd never done it before and you get that look in his eyes. And that for us was priceless."

Frankly, I find it a little hard to believe that a studio would risk a big star on what appears to be an 24-inch ledge 200 feet above the ground without some sort of safety precautions. The famous film (Safety Last, 1923) of Harold Lloyd hanging from the hands of a clock 10 stories above Hollywood Boulevard was shot from an angle that made it look as if he were dangling 100 feet above the street, but in reality a balcony had been built and he was only a few feet off the floor of the balcony. It's the angle that makes it look dangerous.

In this film, however, the camera swings above Worthington and it looks like there's nothing between him and certain death. However they did it, it's very effective and makes yours heels tickle to watch it.