In 1998, Sam Jackson was in "The Negotiator" with Kevin Spacey and David Morse. It was about a cop accused of corruption who takes hostages so that he can prove his innocence. It was pretty decent with a nifty, if not predictable plot twist at the end.


I kind of thought that's what I was looking forward to with "Man on a Ledge" with Australian actor Sam Worthington. The synopsis alluded it. Elizabeth Banks would come in as a negotiator and there might be some tingly moments but little else.


The truth is, "Man of a Ledge" is a two part film. The first part is the suicide watch thing, the second part is a heist film. The problem is one part is not up to par with the other part which leaves the film in an awkward state of imbalance.

Worthington is Nick Cassidy, a former cop who was convicted of stealing a gigantic diamond from a millionaire/big political donor. All along he has claimed his innocence, but don't they all. So, he has a plan.


The first part of the plan involves breaking out of jail, something he does rather easily in the first ten minutes of the film. Check.


Next he'll acquire a new outfit, credit card, ID and some cash, then check into the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown Manhattan. Check.


After consuming a sumptuous lobster dinner, he'll step out onto the ledge of the hotel and threaten to jump. Check.


People notice, the police come and he demands a specific negotiator - Lydia Mercer (Banks) - to come to his rescue. Of course nobody on the police force recognize him as an escaped prisoner nor as a former cop.

While he is creating this ruse, his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) is busy breaking into the building across the street from the hotel with his hot girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez). their plan is to get through several layers of advanced security with some bubble gum, rope and a hammer. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but not by much. This is not "Mission: Impossible"; there are not a bunch of really nifty gadgets that might make the break-in plausible.


Meanwhile, the police finally figure out who he is after lifting a partial print and immediately call in the SWAT team to take him out. We are nearing the one-hour mark on the film now. In reality, the SWAT unit snipes him, he falls to certain death...end of movie.


But no. Mercer starts to believe him and [naturally] develop feelings for him [again naturally]. Just enough feelings to give Joey and Angie enough time to continue the heist even though the victim of the heist (played by Ed Harris) has a feeling something is going on because the proximity of events.


Oh, thrown into the mix is his former partner Mike Ackerman (Anthony Mackie) who may or may not be a bad guy. Also, there's Jack Dougherty (Ed Burns) a cop who reluctantly takes orders from Mercer.


The result is a film with an initial Serpico-like feel but dissolves into a less-than-Tower Heist rip-off. The best parts are the believability of Worthington on the ledge because he actually was on the ledge without a lifeline.


"Man on a Ledge" feels like a film that ran out of money halfway through production. Director Asger Leth probably didn't have the leverage to ask for a couple million more to invest in high tech heist toys to make the second half better.   -- GEOFF BURTON