| This nail-biting suspense thriller finds lead actor Sam Worthington (“Avatar,” “Terminator Salvation” and “The Debt”) standing outside the 21st floor of his midtown Manhattan hotel room.
He plays ex-cop Nick Cassidy, who is now serving a 25-year sentence for the theft of a priceless diamond. He is not up there on display sharing space with the pigeons for the great view of the New York City skyline. He treats this daredevil feat as his last chance to prove his innocence after his judicial appeal was denied.
After ordering a meal and a bottle of champagne from room service, Nick writes a suicide note stating that he will exit this world as he entered it. He closes with the word “innocent” in capital letters.
The first police officer on the scene is Detective Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns from “Saving Private Ryan”). He describes the unidentified jumper as being in his mid-30s. Nick asks specifically for Detective Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks from “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “W.”) of the NYPD hostage negotiation unit.
After being awakened by a telephone call and suffering with a hangover, Lydia arrives on the scene. She leans out the windowsill and finds a desperate man staring off into the abyss. Nick requested this good-looking blonde officer because she became famous after losing a previous jumper off the Brooklyn Bridge.
As Lydia engages Nick in conversation in an attempt to coax him back into the safe environs of the hotel room, she becomes aware that things aren’t as straightforward and clear cut as they appear to be. She trusts her instincts that Nick is an innocent man rather than a sociopath.
Although the ledge is the focal point, there are lots of subplots put in motion in the immediate vicinity. The real prize is a valuable object in a nearby security-controlled building.
This exciting crowd-pleaser holds your interest. While it is nerve wracking watching Nick up on the ledge, you develop the same rubber-necking curiosity as the gathering crowd of onlookers on the sidewalk. You have no clue what is actually happening until midway through this brain teaser.
The other principal players include Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliot,” “Defiance” and “Jumper”) as Nick’s younger brother Joey; hot new talent Genesis Rodriguez (the upcoming “Casa de mi Padre”) as Joey’s girlfriend Angie; Ed Harris (“Gone Baby Gone” and “A History of Violence”) as the rich real estate developer and jewelry mogul David Englander; Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”) as television eyewitness news reporter Suzie Morales; Anthony Mackie (“The Adjustment Bureau” and “The Hurt Locker”) as Nick’s former partner on the police force and best friend Mike Ackerman; and William Sadler (“The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile”) as the hotel valet.
Congratulations are in order to director Asger Leth and screenwriter Pablo F. Fenjves for the ingenious storytelling in their joint feature film debuts. The superb editing and brisk pacing are additional strengths of the first must-see movie of 2012. Some of the dialogue during the 102-minute running time is in Spanish with easy-to-read English subtitles.
While professional football is on hiatus this weekend before next Sunday’s Super Bowl, do yourself a favor and check out this high-flying crime caper.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"