(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 4 February, 2012, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/
Cast: Sam Worthington, Ed Harris, Elizabeth Banks, Edward Burns, Jamie Bell, Genesis Rodriguez, Anthony Mackie, Titus Welliver
Director: Asger Leth
Rating: 1 star
When a guy who claims he wants to commit suicide clings on through a helicopter tailwind and a sudden scare, you kinda know he’s not gonna, like, actually jump. Well, that and the fact that you don’t buy popcorn and expect the protagonist to kill himself five minutes into the film, unless the entire story is in flashback. In that case, it should be called ‘Man Who Jumped Off a Ledge’.
So, here’s the deal – Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) is all angsty. The rest of New York’s going about its life, but this guy miserably checks into a hotel, writes a note reading ‘I will exit the world as I entered – innocent’, wipes his cutlery clean and steps out of the window. An old woman – with very sharp eyesight – points to him, and as the police cordon off the area, we go into flashback mode. So, it’s a month ago, in Sing Sing correctional facility – yeah, I know it exists, but it sounds more like a pole dancer than a maximum security prison.
Cassidy’s an ex-cop, who’s been sentenced to 25 years in jail for trying to steal real estate giant David Englander’s (Ed Harris’) jewel. I’m not being metaphorical – he’s actually been accused of going after a diamond. He tells a severe warden-like old woman that he’s never considered hurting himself, “But killing myself? Every goddamned day.” His partner Mike Ackerman (Anthony Mackie) promises to dig up evidence, and tells him in passing that his father’s dying. So, Cassidy attends his father’s funeral, makes a wisecrack at his brother’s girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), gets into a fistfight with his brother Joey (Jamie Bell), turns the cops’ guns on them, makes a getaway, and somehow lands up on a ledge a month later. See, that’s why the show’s LAPD, not NYPD.
Tough guy cops Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns) and Dante Marcus (Titus Welliver) land up on the scene, but Cassidy will only submit to the ministrations of Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), a pretty negotiator whose commitment to her job has earned her enemies. The time it takes for her to arrive is enough to throw a host of trite lines at us: “Everybody loves a good train wreck, right?”, “Women jump for love, we men jump for money”. There’s a nod to women’s obsession with makeup, and a salute to push-up bras. For some reason, Dougherty and Mercer spend a good part of the film trading barbs, and then begin to watch out for each other.
But, see, all that’s irrelevant in a film that only sets out to prove you can get Ed Harris, Sam Worthington and Jamie Bell to star in a movie that focuses on the stupidest way to prove one’s innocence. Risk your life, check; risk your brother’s life, check; risk your future sister-in-law’s life, check; risk your negotiator’s life, check. You kinda wish someone would push everyone off the ledge when you find out the entire operation relies on two nincompoops who can’t even deactivate an alarm without guesswork, or tell a heat sensor from a motion sensor. You want to jump in there and knock their heads together when they start flirting during a getaway.
They bumble about so pathetically one can’t help thinking they’d have been better off using the Latina’s well-endowed curves to distract the security guards instead. And the providential close shaves seem to be a higher power’s way of ensuring the film ends before the audience dies of boredom. As does the ridiculous idea that someone would trust his pockets more than a safe that’s proved impermeable.
The dramatic music only serves to let us know there will be last-minute escapes, thereby killing those few cheap thrills. The only moments of suspense for me lay in guessing which swearwords would be beeped out. Spoiler alert: The excessive usage of expletives in Spanish is completely overlooked. The only cliché the film sidesteps is a pun on “Scotch on the rocks”, but I suspect that’s because it didn’t strike the dialogue writers in time.
Verdict: When the outcome of a thriller is more predictable than that of an India-Australia match, need I say more?