Directed by Matthew Chapman
An atheist debates jumping to his death in The Ledge, tormented by a man who threatens to kill another if he doesn't. The core question, about how our view of the afterlife influences what we'll sacrifice, is one with wide contemporary resonance—but dear sweet blessed Jesus is the movie that surrounds it ever dumb.
It's rare to see a script so obviously lifted from the transcripts of dorm room bullshit sessions, with characters making the most obvious points about religion and tolerance in the most shallow and clichéd way possible; at one point the hero actually exclaims, "You want something bigger than yourself? There's the universe! And we're a part of it! Thank you universe!"
Given that the film's suspense hinges on his potential plummet to oblivion, it was a poor decision to make him so insufferable that the anti-gay fundamentalist villain seems more sympathetic. Granted, the latter is played by Patrick Wilson, a master of hiding seething hatred behind a slipping mask of geniality (though the role is dwarfed by his similar turn in the towering Angels in America). Charlie Hunnam perilously drains our nation's supply of smug as the jumper, while Liv Tyler, as Wilson's wife and Hunnam's secret lover, should be the film's most dynamic character instead of offensively passive—the camera's only interested in her when she's naked.
As a thriller, The Ledge is laughably ineffective, hinging on a villainous scheme with so many holes that it only persists until the climax through sheer cast-wide idiocy. It could be uncovered in ten seconds if anyone gave it the slightest thought. The premise's intriguing conundrum is obscured by writer-director Matthew Chapman's shameless use of dead children and crack whores as emotional bludgeons.
Morality plays can stretch realistic behavior to examine their theses but The Ledge lays it on ludicrously thick. Consider the cop (Terrance Howard) who hears Hunnam's story in flashbacks. As a father of two he's upset and surprised to learn he was born sterile. In a counterpoint to the main action, we learn his religious wife fucked his brother rather than tell him. Hasn't anyone heard of in vitro?
Opens July 8