DVD Release Date: May 29, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: January 27, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for violence and brief strong language)
Genre: Action, Thriller
Run Time: 102 min.
Director: Asger Leth
Actors: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Edward Burns, Anthony Mackie, Jamie Bell, Genesis Rodriguez, Kyra Sedgwick

Why do you go to the movies? To have a good time? To escape? To see a movie that will help you forget the worries of the day while you get lost in its story? Maybe you are looking for a good popcorn movie to balance all those serious Oscar contenders out there.

If so, skip Man on a Ledge and instead see Haywire, which excels as escapist entertainment where Ledge fails.

Sam Worthington (Avatar) stars as Nick Cassidy, a former cop serving a 25-year sentence, although he insists he’s innocent. After he breaks free of his guards while on a supervised outing, he heads to a New York City hotel and steps out on the ledge, hundreds of feet above ground.

There he waits, as crowds gather below and the police arrive. He bonds with Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks, Our Idiot Brother), a negotiator who has her own checkered past: She’s haunted by an earlier on-the-job failure.

Nick wants vindication and exoneration, and he’s willing to stand on the ledge and talk to Lydia for much of the film’s running time to achieve it. Slowly we learn that his bizarre stunt is part of a scheme designed to even the score with a shady businessman (Ed Harris, disappointingly one-dimensional) from Nick’s past. Nick’s brother (Jamie Bell, The Adventures of Tintin) and the brother’s girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) are in on the plan, working toward a big reveal that will expose the truth and allow Nick to live as a free man. (The couple’s efforts provide an excuse to cut away from the on-the-ledge banter between Nick and Lydia, as do the machinations of a TV reporter [Kyra Sedgwick, The Game Plan] reporting from the scene.)

Despite taking place high above the city’s streets, Man on a Ledge never becomes as taut as it needs to be. We never believe Nick is in real danger. Worthington is more compelling here than he was in The Debt, or even in Avatar, but Banks has difficulty pulling off the jaded-cop routine. She can play evil (The Uninvited) and squeaky clean (as Laura Bush in W.), but gritty blue-collar types aren’t her thing.