At its root, The Ledge has a moderately interesting idea that could have been turned into an intriguing thriller: for some unknown reason, a man is getting ready to jump off a building, but through talking to a police officer we realize that the man isn’t doing it by choice. Had writer/director Matthew Chapman been more interested in storytelling than proselytizing, The Ledge might have been a different film entirely, one that wasn’t painful to watch.
The reason the film exists is for Chapman to play out a battle between Christian fundamentalism and atheism. Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) is a hardcore atheist who thinks that believers of any faith are stupid, immature and dangerous. One of his new employees, Shana (Liv Tyler), and her husband, Joe (Patrick Wilson), move in across the hall from Gavin’s apartment and it’s soon discovered that Joe is a devout Christian who not only condemns gay people (which he believes Gavin and his roommate to be), but anyone who is not born again.
As retribution for being such a terrible person in his eyes, Gavin decides that he is going to seduce Shana to teach Joe a lesson. (Seriously, this is the plot.) Gavin and Shana begin having an affair and Gavin soon develops real feelings for her. When Joe finds out, he goes psychotic and tells Gavin that he must jump off a building or he’ll kill Shana.
The plot is ludicrous and offensive in its transparency and Chapman’s dialogue is laughably atrocious. The characters speak only in straightforward statements that express the exact sentiment they are feeling. This is not how people speak. With barely any provocation, Gavin attacks anyone and everyone who shows even a slight belief in God or religion. His views are as rigid and unaccommodating as Joe’s, yet Gavin is supposed to be the voice of reason. Chapman does not have the slightest idea how to write subtext or believable motivation which makes each character a one-dimensional puppet in the stage that has been set.
Chapman must also believes that his audience is incredibly dumb because the film’s action makes absolutely no sense. For example, Gavin leaves for work every day (he is an assistant hotel manager) fully dressed, heads straight to work, and then changes into a shirt and tie once he gets there. In what world would this happen? What possible explanation could there be for this behavior? Here’s another example: we find out that Shana has had a rather rough and dark past and that Joe was the one who saved her from living on the streets and that she is eternally grateful for his kindness. So why does she cheat on him? Gavin is both condescending and dismissive of her, insulting her lifestyle and religion. What part of that would be attractive to a married woman?
Across the board, the acting is terrible. Hunnam isn’t even attempting a performance, while Tyler just coasts through the film pretending to be a frightened bunny, barely raising her voice above a whisper. Wilson, who should know better than to be in this movie, is unsettlingly creepy and over acts almost every line he delivers. Terrence Howard, who plays the cop trying to talk Gavin off the ledge, is given a ridiculously thin and unnecessary subplot that only adds to the ridiculousness of the film.
The Ledge is not only boring and frustrating, but it’s offensive to both believers and non-believers alike. At all costs, avoid seeing this film.
This film is rated R and runs 101 minutes.