Updated: Aug 14, 2019
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) a felon and ex-NYPD cop orchestras a suicide threat on the 21st floor of the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, to prove his innocence after a 25-year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit.
(4K frame shots courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
“MAN ON A LEDGE”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2012; PG-13 for violence and brief strong profanity; streaming via Amazon/Video Prime, FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play, iTunes (4K), Vudu, YouTube
Best extra: Making of “The Ledge”
LIONSGATE/SUMMIT is back with another random 4K Ultra HD release from its library of action films. This month it’s the caper-thriller “Man on a Ledge.” During its initial run it received a dismal 16 percent from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, it’s a respectable crowd-pleaser hitting 52 percent with audiences on the RT site.
As the title applies, “Man on a Ledge” is mostly filmed on the ledge of the 21st floor of the Roosevelt Hotel, with a panoramic view of 45th Street and Madison Ave in Manhattan. It’s been the Midtown location for a number of Hollywood favorites including “The French Connection,” “The Quiz Show,” Maid in Manhattan.” “1408” and “Wall Street,” plus TV series “The Good Wife” and “Law & Order.”
Filming 200-plus feet above the streets was an enormous challenge for Danish director Asger Leth in his feature-film debut, and actor Sam Worthington whose career never took off after his lead role in 2009’s “Avatar.”
“How can we tell the story of a man on a ledge cinematically, and be able to show it with such vibrancy in the camerawork that it actually doesn’t just fall flat against the wall?” Leth says in the making-of extra.
At first, they intended to film on a soundstage with a huge green screen, but the producers felt they need moving cars and people below and “Worthington needing to feel the height,” Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (“Transformers,” “Bumblebee”) says. Production designer Alec Hammond (“Donnie Darko,” “Insurgent”) walked nearly 40 miles all over Manhattan, taking pictures of any building with a ledge, “that you could theoretically get out onto from a window,” says Hammond. They decided the perfect height was between 18 and 22 stories, so the audience felt the danger, and for the crowds below that the person above them was a long way up. Hammond and his crew ended up building a room and a ledge on top of moving tracks placed on the existing roof of the Roosevelt and using the coronets of the building as their ledge.
The story focuses on Nick Cassidy (Worthington) a felon and an ex-NYPD cop who seeks revenge after being a pawn in a $40 million insurance scam orchestrated by real estate tycoon David Englander (Ed Harris) a former jewel merchant. Cassidy is sentenced 25 years for stealing a huge diamond, a setup from Englander. Rotting away in prison he masterminds a plan for freedom and restoring his good name. “He wants to prove his innocence. And, that’s what’s driven him to the edge,” Worthington says. A safety cable was attached to the actor to ensure his protection on top of the hotel, with the cable digitally removed during post-production. “Being in the actual location really helps. You don’t need to act, to be honest, I think you just try not to fall off,” Worthington recalls.
Nick’s threat of suicide is only a decoy – which is quickly telegraphed by Pablo F. Fenjves’ script – so his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) can carry out a jewelry heist against you-know-who.
Elizabeth Banks plays down-and-out Detective Lydia Mercer, who Nick requests to be his negotiator. Her previous suicide call still haunts her.
TV news reporter Suzie Morales (Kyra Sedgwick) covers the scene for Channel 12 as the TV helicopter buzzes right in front of Nick, nearly knocking him off the ledge. On cue, the crowd below cheers Jump! Jump! – a Hollywood cliché. Then they shout “Attica” a reference to Sidney Lumet’s 1970s thriller “Dog Day Afternoon,” based on a real-life bank robbery.
Leth and cinematographer Paul Cameron (“Collateral,” “The Commuter”) captured the action on Super 35 film stock (2.35:1 aspect ratio) and mastered 2K, and then upconverted for this 4K presentation. Its overall sharpness is several clicks up over the seven-year-old Blu-ray, possibly from a new master still sourced in 2K, as it extracts more natural film grain with no signs of digital noise reduction. Distance shots have more clarity including one from the ledge looking down Madison Ave, where we can easily pick out pedestrians crossing the street at least a half mile away.
The HDR10 and Dolby Vision toning exhibit richer blacks and brighter highlights, while keeping facial hues in check and natural – especially in close-ups of Worthington.
The 4K also received an upgraded Dolby Atmos eight-channel soundtrack, which provides an expanded soundstage to height speakers from helicopter sounds and environmental effects of the city. The bass response is still deep and powerful during several explosions. Henry Jackman’s electronic-heavy score (“X-Men: First Class” “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”) fills the room with compelling musical cues.
By no means, this is a got-to-have 4K movie for collectors, but with a retail price under $20 it may fill an entertainment void one weekend.
― Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer