‘Man on a Ledge’ teeters on unoriginality

"MAN ON a Ledge" is a movie so bold, so innovative, there hasn't been anything remotely like it since . . . "Ledge," a couple of months ago.

The latter starred Charlie Hunnam as the ledge-bound protagonist, Terrence Howard the sympathetic cop, and went pretty much straight to DVD.

Now comes "Man on a Ledge," which merits theatrical release based of its "B" movie panache, and the way it expands from its pitch-meeting premise into an action-thriller about a police officer trying to clear his name.

Sam Worthington is the ledge-bound protagonist, Elizabeth Banks the sympathetic cop, a negotiator called in to "talk down" a man who is assumed to be suicidal.

But is he?

If you do not want a full and detailed answer to that question, by no means watch the TV commercials, which are full of plot-point spoilers.

The movie, suffice it to say, uses flashbacks and crosscutting to weave a larger story about police corruption and a still larger story about a rich guy (Ed Harris) with whom Worthington's character has a grudge.

The movie is lucid, quickly paced, and has a nice cast - additional players include Ed Burns, Kyra Sedgwick, Jamie Bell and Anthony Mackie.

It's also completely preposterous, relying on massively improbable twists of fate. The same few crooked cops are assigned to every major police action in the city of New York.

Also preposterous is Worthington's halfhearted attempts to swallow his Aussie accent, the fact that Bell is supposed to be his brother, that they all grew up Queens, N.Y.

Especially with Burns around to remind us what a bridge-and-tunnel guy really sounds like.

Man on a Ledge

Directed by Asger Leth. With Elizabeth Banks, Anthony Mackie, Genesis Rodriguez, Ed Burns, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell, Sam Worthington, Kyra Sedgwick. Distributed by Summit Entertainment.

Running time: 1 hours, 42 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (for violence and brief strong language).