3 Stars – Engaging

Joining together several genres of action films, from a fugitive trying to prove his innocence, to a police negotiator realizing the truth, to a mission impossible manipulation, Asger Leth’s “Man on a Ledge” is an engaging tale.  We not only care about the people involved on both sides of the negotiation but we have a clear sense of why evil is destructive and love creates courageous loyalty.  Written by Pablo F. Fenjves, an accomplished writer for television drama, this film represents his first attempt to fill the big screen.

The central character of our tale is police officer Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington).  Having been convicted for stealing a $40 million diamond, we meet him when his final appeal has been rejected and he is consigned to prison for twenty-five years.  However when they allow him to attend his father’s funeral, he escapes and is now a fugitive felon who can be shot on sight.  It is therefore extremely dangerous for him to reveal himself on the ledge of a New York skyscraper to prove his innocence.

Along with his father (Patrick Collins), also in the film is his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey’s girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), his former partner on the force Mike Ackerman (Anthony Mackie) and of course his nemesis, the conniving David Englander (Ed Harris).  But the complimentary character is the police negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks).  Nick chose Lydia to be the negotiator because of her own fall from grace when she failed to save the life of another police officer who threatened to jump from a bridge a short time before.

The impossible mission of proving his innocence is the focus of the tale and we cannot spoil that, but it is a powerful study of loyalty and courage in the face of an impossible task.  It is this human dynamic that makes the story ring true.  When normal people are asked to risk everything to help someone they love we begin to recognize the power of sacrifice to heal the injustices of our world.  Willing to lay down our lives we provide the opportunity for restoration that echoes that of the Christian story as well.

In many ways all of us live on the ledge and are vulnerable to both our own despair and the ignorance and anger of others.  It is only as we pull together to truly serve and protect that we will survive this precarious position we all share.  That is a truth this film shows clearly.

Discussion for those who have seen this film:

1. When Nick realizes he has been framed he does not fall into a paralyzed despair but immediately begins to form a way to prove his innocence.  How do you think you would respond if you were in his position?  Do you have people in your life who would risk everything to help you?

2. The willingness of Englander to destroy another person’s life just for financial gain reveals the true core of evil.  Have you ever been tempted to take advantage of, or even harm another person, just to get more money?  What kept you from doing so?

3. The complex set of circumstances that had to occur in order for this mission to be successful is beyond belief.  Do you find that more interesting or less compelling in a film such as this?

Posted on December 29, 2013 and filed under 3 STARS, ENGAGING.